Thandeka Moyo, Chronicle Reporter
THE Government has reintroduced maternal user fees with pregnant women expected to pay at least RTGS$80 to register at public health institutions.
This came out during a sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) media workshop in Bulawayo where the Bulawayo City Council indicated that a number of expecting women had started flocking to its clinics.
According to the director of Health Services, Dr Edwin Sibanda, women were now opting to register at council clinics which are charging RTGS$30.
He said the council through its partners had received US$1 million funding from the Results Based Fund (RBF) to be shared with the Harare City Council.
“We still have a long way to go in terms of raising awareness around SRHR but we are glad that we have received some funding to help improve maternal health services.
“Maternity fees have been reintroduced at public hospitals which have resulted in an increase of women who are registering at our four council run maternity clinics,” said Dr Sibanda.
“We are charging RTGS$30 which is still subsidised and we will hopefully review charges so that we sustain our clinics.
“However, women will be able to access the RBF which will run from this month up to December this year”.
Dr Sibanda said for the RBF, pregnant women will only be required to pay just $1 and then access all antenatal services.
“Even in cases of emergency where we have to refer to Mpilo Central Hospital for specialist care, the RBF will still cater for all costs until the woman delivers,” he said.
Dr Sibanda said council clinics had a staff shortage of between 50 and 60 percent.
“Our staff complement was last reviewed before Independence and then we did not have a high disease burden compared to nowadays.
“We have a shortage of nurses and midwives in our clinics among other staff which jeopardises service delivery,” he said.
Dr Sibanda said in the past council received RBF to renovate its clinics but the buildings were no longer adequate to cater for the growing Bulawayo population.
“We also need to appreciate that when our clinics were built there were fewer people compared to now and we had less diseases. We now have overcrowding at Nketa Clinic because we have no clinics for Mbundane and Emganwini,” he said.
More than 2 400 pregnant women die in Zimbabwe annually due to over bleeding, abortion and poverty.
Zimbabwe’s maternal mortality rate remains at 640 per 100 000 births which is still one of the highest in the region.
According to global standards, an acceptable maternal mortality rate should be less than 100 per 100 000 births.