Residents demand maternity hospital

Hopley Farm residents have urged the incoming council and government to build a maternity clinic in their area to give them access to effective and maternity and newborn care.

Amai Ropafadzo was one of the lucky ones. She gave birth to a healthy daughter despite having no maternity clinic nearby.
Amai Ropafadzo was one of the lucky ones. She gave birth to a healthy daughter despite having no maternity clinic nearby.

Most of the residents of Hopley, 10km south of Harare, are survivors of the 2005 forced mass evictions by the government under Operation Murambastvina (Drive out filth). They were resettled here under the government’s programme, which affected 700,000 people countrywide.

Most of the residents live in appalling conditions and face discrimination when trying to access services in neighbouring communities simply because of where they live. As a result, many women are forced to have their babies at home.

According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey for 2010-2011, there was no skilled person present at around a third of births.

“Hopley satellite clinic does not offer maternity services and we are referred to Glen Norah C Rustanana Clinic where we are discriminated against,” said Amai Ropafadzo Mada from Zone 3. She said she delivered her daughter in February at Harare Hospital.

“When you are suffering labour pains, Rustanana Clinic is very far away. It costs $1 to get there, but I was later charged $341 when I delivered at Harare Hospital. I only managed $91 for a caesarean delivery after paying a $25 booking fee at Rustanana,” said Mada.

According to an Amnesty International report from 2010, 21 babies died during or after delivery in Hopley between January and May. They considered the figure to be very high given a population of just 5,000.

The report said the number of newborn deaths at Hopley could even be higher because most happened at home and were not necessarily registered. Another resident, Amai Nyanzunda, who is due to give birth, said she had no money to book prenatal care.

“I will deliver at home because I cannot afford the maternity fee and the nurses there told me not to come again if I do not have the money,” she said. Mai Mafaro of Zone 4 said some apostolic churches in the community were encouraging home deliveries.

“Most of these churches do not believe in seeking medical care and there is need for health providers to engage and educate the community. The council should prioritise establishing a maternity clinic or hospital to address the situation,” she said.

When contacted for comment, City of Harare Director of Health Services Stanley Mungofa said Hopley community was well covered in terms of access to maternity services.

“The nearest clinic that provides maternity health services to Hopley residents is less than five kilometres, a distance not very far according to international standards,” he said, before asking further questions in writing.

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