It is on a sad note that this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence Campaign is commemorated in the context of a collapsing health delivery system in Zimbabwe where women continue to face the impact of the current political intolerance.
Access to adequate health care is among the most basic human rights and it is currently being violated in this country. Most pregnant women in Zimbabwe are resorting to risky means of delivering as they cannot keep up with the soaring charges at private doctors and hospitals. With the public hospitals not admitting any patients there is no choice but to deliver either at home or in an unsafe place.
A few days ago I had a chat with a friend of mine who is expecting. From our discussion I discovered some very disturbing realities that women are going through to access antenatal services. Private gynecologists’ consultation fees are ranging between US$20 and US$40. Delivery charges are about US$500. Admission charges at private hospitals cost about US$850 for a normal delivery. This means that one needs to prepare about US$1 300 for delivery. With the rising cost of living few people can afford this.
Some doctors now propose back door deliveries. This is when the doctor suggests that delivery can be arranged for a ‘reasonable’ fee at a surgery in the outskirts of a residential area. These surgeries do not have adequate facilities thus both the mother and the baby are at risk.
A woman’s right to maternal health care in Zimbabwe is compromised by the delay in resolving the political differences in Zimbabwe. This is indeed an insult to motherhood.