Zimbabwe Awaits International Funding to Help Lower Maternal Mortality

Zimbabwean PM Morgan Tsvangirai greets a mother and child in the children's wing of Harare Central Hospital. (File Photo)
Zimbabwean PM Morgan Tsvangirai greets a mother and child in the children's wing of Harare Central Hospital. (File Photo)

Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government is hoping for international funds so more women can give birth safely in hospitals. Right now high medical costs force many poor rural women to give birth at home contributing to high maternal mortality rates. Zimbabwe’s minister of health and child welfare is calling the situation “really desperate.”

These are lucky mothers and their healthy new born babies delivered at this rural Howard mission hospital in Chiweshe - a communal area north of Harare.

United Nations figures show about 8 women die in child birth each day in Zimbabwe or about 725 women for every 100,000 live births. Most of them occur at home, because the $25 delivery fee charged at hospitals is out of reach for most women.

Zimbabwe Health Minister Henry Madzorera acknowledged the maternal mortality rate is on the rise and is unacceptable.

“That is a very bad statistic. We have deteriorated very seriously over the last 10 to 15 years," he said. "So we have got to do a lot of hard work. If you want to call it desperate, it is really desperate.”

Despite this, he told the media in Harare Wednesday that hospital fees will remain until the international community chips in with $430 million to bring the county's healthcare system back to a sound footing. He warned that eliminating hospital fees now could be more disastrous.

“Removal of fees is a process, it is not an event," said Madzorera. "Remember in Zimbabwe we once removed user fees completely and it collapsed. In Uganda, they removed them 10 days before an election. It worked for a time, but then the system starts feeling the pressure, you run out of resources. There is nothing is nothing called removing user fees without resources to substitute the source of revenue that was sustaining the hospitals.”

Madzorera spoke to journalists after the European Union donated some $5 million to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as a contribution aimed at eliminating hospital user fees for women and children under the age of five.

Peter Salama, the head of UNICEF in Zimbabwe which will administer the fund, said he was hopeful that other international donors would assist the African nation's health delivery system. Salama said about $200 million had already been pledged by international donors.

“There would be no real reason why health facilities should be charging user fees I think by end of 2012," said Salama. "And I say by end of 2012 because it will take up some time for all elements to be up and running. Some are already functioning like the essential medicines programs, others have to really reach full gear. By the time they are all in full gear there should be no reason why facilities should charge user fees for at least pregnant women and children under five. ”

Zimbabwe's health delivery system almost collapsed after the government’s chaotic land reform program, which began in 2000, resulted in a national economic meltdown and hyperinflation. However since the formation of a coalition government in 2009, there has been a slow recovery. Even so the country’s financial situation remains precarious and essential services such as health care have only partially recovered.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs