HARARE – The national rate of pregnancy-related deaths remains worryingly high, a new government study finds.
Researchers at the Health and Child Care ministry found that between January and October this year, the rate of pregnancy-related deaths was 235 per 100 000 live births.
And while that rate is low, it is worrying for authorities.
The researchers caution that the extent to which the rise reflects a true elevation in women’s risk of dying is unclear.
In just one week ended November 5, a total of seven deaths were recorded across the country.
“The deaths for the week were reported from Mazowe District in Mashonaland Central province (1), Gokwe North district (1) and Gweru District (1) both in Midlands province, Bulawayo Hospitals (2), Harare Central Hospital (1) and Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals (1),” the update read.
It was not clear if these deaths were from chronic medical conditions that are exacerbated by pregnancy, including heart disease or were from actual obstetric complications — namely, hemorrhaging and pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorders.
Avenues Clinic chairperson Pearson Chitando said the number of women dying giving birth remains a cause of concern in Zimbabwe.
The last official stats showed Zimbabwe’s maternal mortality at 614 per 100 000 live births.
Despite a decreasing rate in maternal mortality, Zimbabwe still remains one of the highest in the world and is heavily dependent on international aid.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has attributed the high maternal mortality rate to religious and traditional practices.
“Religious and traditional objectors to modern medicine, for instance refusal to seek care at the health facilities, refusal of blood transfusion, refusal of modern medicines or surgical procedures, and use of traditional uterine contracting medicines to quicken labour,” a WHO report reads.
The target of the Health and Child Care ministry is to reduce maternal and child deaths, as they have made it a pre-requisite that every woman should deliver at a health facility, as they have done away with traditional midwives.