The Herald (Harare)

22 February 2012

Zimbabwe: Plans Afoot to Scrap Maternity Fees

Photo: Elizabeth Glaser/ Pediatric AIDS Foundation
HIV and child birth in Zimbabwe.

GOVERNMENT has set up a committee to strategise the best way to scrap user fees for pregnant women.

Health and Child Welfare Minister Dr Henry Madzorera said following the launch Health Transition Fund,

Government is now looking forward to scrapping user fees in health institutions.

"We have since put up a committee that will advice us on how best to do it. We have also been waiting for enough funding and now that we have received other funds from Britain's Department for International Development, I think it is now possible to remove user fees," Dr Madzorera said.

DFID recently chipped in with US$80 million towards the HTF.

Dr Madzorera said funding for maternal services was still limited to sustain free maternity services at public health institutions.

"We were still waiting for the money as few donors contributed to the HTF," he said.

Pregnant women who were failing to register for maternity have cited the issue of user fees as hindrance.

In Harare, maternity fees are pegged at US$25 at council clinics.

These charges were contributing to increased women delivering in homes as they failed to raise the registration fees.

High user fees have been blamed for maternal deaths and complications.

Apart from user fees, there are three delays identified to be contributing to pregnancy complications.

These include the delay in deciding to visit a health facility, delay in getting transport to the institution and the delay in getting assistance while at the institution.

Failure to deliver under the supervision of skilled personnel is among reasons why Zimbabwe has re-corded a high number of pregnancy-related deaths.

According to the Zimbabwe maternal and perinatal mortality study (2007), the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has trebled to 725 deaths for 100 000 live births.

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