HARARE – Human rights lawyers have slammed government for failing to provide lifesaving reproductive health services to expecting women.
Jeremiah Bamu and Tawanda Zhuwarara, both of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR), said reports that Harare Central Hospital’s maternity wing was overwhelmed by an increase of expecting mothers were disturbing because this was a violation of human dignity.
“Ordinarily it is a right for every woman to be accorded with decency when giving birth so this situation (at Harare Hospital) is shocking and inhuman.
Having women who are giving birth on floors and benches is a clear manifestation of failure by government on health delivery,” said Bamu.
Staff at the institution, which is one of the country’s largest referral hospitals, claimed the scrapping of maternity fees was the reason behind the hospital’s failure to cope.
But Bamu dismissed this, saying since people were bound to reproduce, a responsible government should always have strategies to cope with any possible increase on relevant services.
“It is a simple fact that at any given time there are women giving birth and for that reason government should be proactive not reactive. There is no excuse for government to fail to provide such a basic need,” said the lawyer.
Zhuwarara said government should treat the situation at Harare Hospital with urgency.
“The state is obliged to provide adequate maternal health care. It is intertwined with the right to life. The state should take the crisis seriously,” said Zhuwarara.
The statistics are not pleasing.
Eight women die everyday giving birth while 960 babies die for every 10 000 live births in Zimbabwe, according to the Zimbabwe Women Resource Network.
Over 4 000 children die annually from preventable diseases, according to the group.