Zimbabwe: Doctors Condemn Backyard Maternity Wards

Wards that are normally full of patients were empty.
22 November 2019

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) has condemned Gogo Esther Gwena's backyard maternity ward in Mbare and said it reflects a failing health system.

In a statement, ZHDA called for urgent financial investment to capacitate formal health care workers and prioritization of health services by the government and stakeholders in dealing with the unfolding healthcare crisis.

"We witnessed with shock and condemnation sad scenes emerging from Mbare where women are giving birth in an unregistered and unsafe home. These stone age and medieval traditional medical practices are a clear result of a failing healthcare system that needs to be urgently attended to," read the statement.

"The basic obstetric package asset by the World Health Organization (WHO) is an irreplaceable and essential minimum required in running a maternity care centre as far as skills, equipment and drugs are concerned. Maternal and Neonatal complications that may arise from home deliveries may include, but are not limited to Cerebral Palsy, Eclampsia, Post Partum Hemorrhage, Neonatal Sepsis,Tetanus and HIV transmission. It is therefore incumbent upon any health care-system to ensure that all women deliver safely in an institution where the WHO standards are met.

"The ZHDA is deeply worried on how other emergencies that require urgent surgical and specialist expertise like placental rupture, obstructed labour, breech presentation and preterm deliveries amongst others are being currently managed. We maintain that a speedy resolution of the labour dispute or standoff with medical doctors can avert these catastrophic experiences amongst the populace. The Ministry of Health has the constitutional mandate to safeguard the right to health particularly maternal health for all Zimbabwean women," further read the statement.

ZHDA urged the relevant authorities to look into this matter as a matter of urgency and address the incapacitation in medical doctors to avoid a situation whereby the country's health system deteriorates further.

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