HARARE – Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda says political leaders calling for the scrapping of maternity fees are off the mark as the city council actually wants to increase fees by 100 percent.
Addressing industry and commerce stakeholders during a pre-budget consultative meeting in Harare yesterday, Masunda said the hospitals were struggling to provide standard service on the current fees.
“What we do not want is to hear, whether it is Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe or Vice President (Joice) Mujuru saying we should just scrap maternity fees. We tried to raise the fees to $50 but our
proposal was shot down,” he said.
“What this does is, it compromises on standards. Currently we are charging $25 but it costs $129 to deliver a baby,” Masunda said.
Edith Opperman maternity hospital is currently delivering 500 to 600 babies while Mabvuku is delivering around 300 every month, Masunda said.
He said the figures proved the centrality council hospitals are in the provision of maternal services.
Government recently announced that it has scrapped maternity fees at all provincial hospitals and women politicians and lobby groups have been vocal in supporting the move.
Charging of maternity fees has also been blamed for the country’s relatively high maternal and child mortality rates, prompting a campaign for their removal by Khupe and other senior government
But Masunda is having none of it.
“We are currently faced with Millennium Development Goals on reducing maternal deaths but we cannot meet this demand if we compromise standards,” he said.
According to a recent Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey, the maternal mortality rate stands at 960 deaths per 10 000 live births while child mortality rate is at 86 per 1 000 lives.
Masunda said the authority was trying hard to fundraise outside Zimbabwe’s borders for its various health centres which saw some Zimbabwean professionals in Geneva recently donating $50 000 and adopting the Edith Opperman hospital. – Wendy Muperi