The Sunday Mail
Resource constraints at some of Zimbabwe’s referral hospitals are taking a toll, with 740 maternal deaths registered since 2015.
Of these, 580 occurred last year and the remainder between January and April 2016.
The causes of maternal mortality include pregnancy-induced hypertension, post-partum haemorrhaging, malaria, obstructed labour, lack of information and unsafe cultural practices.
The Health and Child Care Ministry’s family health director Dr Bernard Madzima told The Sunday Mail, “The deaths are mainly occurring in central hospitals where most of the severely ill women end up after having been referred from lower levels. In 2015, out of the 580 deaths that occurred, 500 were institutional and the remainder occurred in communities.
“This might be due to lack of life-saving commodities like oxytocin, antibiotics, blood or lack of requisite skills at the institutions, for instance, ability to perform Caesarean section at a hospital. Central hospitals are incapacitated in terms of resources because partner support tends to focus on lower levels. Therefore, the ministry is working to address that by making sure central hospitals are also supported.
“(The bottom line) is ensuring the delivery of quality services to all Zimbabweans by strengthening health systems in all aspects of financing, human resources, commodities, leadership, governance, infrastructure, research, monitoring and evaluation.”
Maternal mortality rate is the annual number of female deaths per 100 000 live births from any cause related to or caused by pregnancy or its management.
South Africa’s rate is 300 per 100 000, Mozambique 490, Malawi 460, Tanzania 460, Zambia 440, Kenya 360, Swaziland 320, Namibia 200 and Botswana 160.
The 2014 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey indicates that Zimbabwe records 614 deaths per 100 000 live births yearly, with the World Health Organisation putting the global figure at 830 deaths daily.
Zim-Asset’s Social Services and Poverty Eradication Cluster aims to reduce morbidity and maternal and infant mortality by ensuring at least 90 percent of all pregnant women receive roughly four ante-natal care visits and that fully functional maternity waiting homes are available in all districts.
Studies have shown that over 30 percent of women do not give birth in health institutions and over 57 percent do not go for post-natal checkups.