Declare maternity mortality a national disaster: ZWRCN

Maternal deaths claim 960 women out of every 100 000 women giving birth in the country. This should be declared a national disaster, an activist for women’s rights said last week.

“When a bus is involved in an accident and claims 21 people it is declared a national disaster, but when 960 for every 100 000 die delivering babies it is ignored,” saidZimbabwe Women Resource Centre and Network executive director, Naomi Chimbetete.

Speaking at the launch of a campaign for improved health services in rural area held in Domboshawa, Chimbetete added: “The government should declare this a national disaster and look for ways to reduce the rate at which the people are dying. No woman should die giving birth.”

Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Douglas Mombeshora, said the government was alarmed by the increasing maternal deaths.

“In 2007 the rate was 750 women die in giving births per 100 000, and in 2010/11 the figure rose to 960 and since 1990 the figure has risen by 21%. We are facing challenges in reducing the figures,” said Mombeshora.

High maternity fees of $30 contribute to the death rate because most rural mothers cannot afford them. A free health service policy for pregnant and lactating mothers, children under five and the elderly (60 or more years of age) is not benefitting many because of implementation challenges.

HellenMachikaire, the Adolescent, Sexual and Reproductive health programme officer at Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council, said her organisation was lobbying for the removal of maternity fees.

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