Zimbabwe: City Council to Re-Open Edith Opperman

19 November 2019

Edith Opperman Maternity Clinic in Mbare is set to re-open after indications some development partners will assist health workers to report for work.

This follows reports that many women who ordinarily would have been assisted at the clinic are now turning to a traditional birth attendant who stays near the health facility.

Statistics from the clinic show that an average of 30 deliveries were being handled per day before nurses withdrew their labour citing incapacitation to report for work.

The traditional midwife Ms Esther Zinyoro claimed she had assisted 17 women to deliver between Sunday night and mid-morning yesterday. Ms Zinyoro said cumulatively, she had assisted more than 100 women to deliver since council clinics started turning away pregnant women because of the nurses' mass job action.

She said that she had to date, not faced any complications or lost a patient during delivery.

Speaking after visiting both Edith Opperman Polyclinic and Ms Zinyoro's home at Tagarika Flats yesterday, City Health director Dr Prosper Chonzi said authorities were working flat out to ensure that Edith Opperman resumed operations.

"Of course deliveries are taking place, but under a poor environment. Until Friday, she did not have any gloves, so she was using her bare hands to deliver the babies," said Dr Chonzi.

He said the non-availability of running water, disinfectants, facilities for the disposal of the placenta and lack of safe delivery kits were all a cause for concern.

"This is why we are here with our partners to make sure that Edith Opperman is functional. We will make sure that it resumes operations, if not today, maybe tomorrow.

"We have to make sure that we look for extra resources elsewhere just to make sure that these critical areas are covered while negotiations with council continue," said Dr Chonzi.

The Family Health director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Bernard Madzima, who was also part of the delegation said Government remains guided by international standards which stipulate that traditional birth attendants must have health education. "Traditional birth attendants must encourage women to go to health facilities.

"They should also be aware of dangers associated with pregnancy. That is the role they are supposed to play and that is what we advocate for in a normal situation," said Dr Madzima.

The two officials were accompanied by representatives from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Harare nurses stopped reporting for work at the beginning of the month citing incapacitation, resulting in most facilities closing their doors to the public.

Last week, the municipality reported that only five polyclinics in Harare namely; Mabvuku, Tafara, Kuwadzana, Mufakose, Hatfield and Glen View were operating, a situation that saw most expecting women who could not afford private facilities resorting to home deliveries.

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