The Herald, 31 October 2013
OVER 3 000 women and girls die each year due to pregnancy-related complications in Zimbabwe translating to 11 women dying every day of the year, Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa has said.
Minister Parirenyatwa made these remarks in his speech on the occasion of the 68th Anniversary of the United Nations Day at Chitungwiza Central Hospital yesterday.
The celebrations ran under the theme: “For Safer Motherhood in Zimbabwe”.
He said the Government was partnering different organisations, private companies and individuals to raise awareness to reduce maternal mortality in the country.
“A sobering fact is that in Zimbabwe, the maternal mortality rate alarmingly stands at 960 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births — three times higher than the global average and almost double that of the Sub Saharan averages”.
He said the Government was committed to resolving the challenge through various policies, strategies and programmes aimed at promoting safer motherhood and reduce the maternal mortality rate.
“Effective health services for all is primarily responsibility of Government, we take issues of maternal mortality very seriously. Healthcare programmes to improve maternal health must be supported by strong policies, adequate training of healthcare providers, and logistical services that facilitate the provision of those programmes”, said Minister Parirenyatwa.
Shortages in personnel, equipment and supplies continue to plague Zimbabwe’s healthcare infrastructure, putting the lives of pregnant women at risk.
He added that many women, particularly in rural areas, cannot afford the transport costs required to make frequent travels to health centres during and after pregnancy.
Most women cannot raise the fees required to consult health personnel and hence go through a pregnancy, ignorant of potential life-threatening complications.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
In the sexual reproductive health field, maternal mortality ratio is the number of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth per 100 000 live births. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says, “complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death among women of reproductive age (15-49)”.
In March 2020, the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency announced a decline in maternal deaths as calculated through the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2019). The drop was from 614 to 462 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births since 2014.
The drop was partly due to improved Government policies and development partners’ efforts that included the scrapping of maternity fees in public hospitals; the introduction of mothers’ waiting shelters/homes; free blood coupons, etc.
In order to meet its MDGs, Zimbabwe in 2019 pledged to halve the maternal mortality rate from 651 to 325 deaths per 100 000 live births by 2030. The? media has an important role in promoting social accountability on maternal health.