Jobs freeze hits hospital's baby delivery

HARARE - Chitungwiza General Hospital’s mid-wives are overburdened by child births because government froze recruitment of new personnel.

Clinical Director, Edward Tadros, said an average of 40 to 50 deliveries were being recorded per day, straining an understaffed delivery wing.

Tadros said: “All posts were frozen; the work is too much on the mid-wives that are present. We are delivering 40 to 50 babies every day. We are having women coming from Harare, Marondera and other areas because they deliver for free.”

The Daily News paid a visit to Chitungwiza hospital last week following a tip off that women who had just given birth were being detained and made to sleep at the reception area after failing to pay maternity user fees that amount to $35.

A cleaner at the hospital confirmed that women with newly-born babies were spending the night detained at the outpatient’s reception area for failing to pay maternity user fees.

However, Tadros denied this development saying: “It is not in the policy to detain any patient. We invoice the person and they go. We do not want to keep them here because they are many.”

Zimbabwe has a Health Transition Fund (HTF), a $435 million, five-year programme (2011-2015) that was set up to revitalise Zimbabwe’s health sector.

It is funded by multiple donors, including the European Union, Canada, Ireland, Norway, the United Kingdom and Sweden, and is led by the ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MoHCW) and managed by Unicef.

The HTF was launched in 2011 but formal implementation began in March 2012.

The fund was established under much aplomb with women believing that they will not pay for any delivery-related fees at public hospitals.

But this does not seem to be the case as women are paying maternity user fees amounting to $35 in hospitals.

Victor Chinyama, Unicef communications officer said: “The HTF has four pillars. Its main goals are to reduce maternal mortality by three quarters and under-five mortality by two thirds, as stated in the Millennium Development Goals, and eliminate user fees for children under-five and pregnant and lactating women by 2015.”

“It also aims to halve the number of underweight children under five as well as combating, halting and reversing trends in HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases. A steering committee, co-chaired by the permanent secretary of the MoHCW and one of the funding agencies, oversees and directs the roll-out of the HTF and defines priority interventions within each of the four thematic areas. Donors and UNICEF provide support to monitoring, evaluation and technical expertise.”

Chinyama said part of the money was made available to the hospitals. “The $435 million pledged by donors has not been made available at once. Because the programme is multi-year, about $80 - $100 million is made available to UNICEF every year by donors and disbursed to health facilities. Last year, $62.7 million was made available by donors, out of which $54 million was spent between April 2012 and March 2013.”

Chinyama said no major challenges were faced in distributing the funds. “The Ministry of Health has formally announced the abolition of user fees. However, this is being implemented in a phased approach and we suggest you contact the Ministry for details.”

The Daily News repeatedly contacted the ministry of health and child welfare to no avail. - Margaret Chinowaita, Community Affairs Editor

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.