Zimbabwe records 106 maternal deaths
THE United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has bemoaned women in marginalised communities’ lack of access to prenatal care due to the coronavirus (Covid-19)-induced national lockdown, revealing that Zimbabwe has recorded 106 maternal deaths since the beginning of the national lockdown.
Zimbabwe began it’s lockdown on March 30, 2020 and has since extended it indefinitely while allowing formal businesses to operate, at the same time maintaining the ban on inter-city travel and activity from the informal sector to mitigate the spread of the virus.
OCHA said due to restrictions in movements more women are now being forced to deliver in unsafe environments, where they are prone to infections and have limited options if complications arise.
“Nine maternal deaths were reported from 24 to 30 May and the breakdown indicates that in Zvimba one death was recorded, Sanyati two, Hurungwe one, Nyanga one, Gweru two, Mbire one and Mutoko Districts. Cumulatively, the country has reported 106 maternal deaths since the beginning of the national lockdown,” OCHA said.
“The focus on provision of Covid-19 services has also led to a reduction in provision of sexual and reproductive health services (SRHR).
“Women cannot access family planning services, and, in some settings, there are shortages of family planning pills, which will have a negative impact on SRHR of women and girls resulting in unwanted pregnancies.
“Women and children are also facing access challenges because of cost of transportation in urban areas, lack of public transport in rural areas, access fees for certain medication such as antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), stigma and teasing at roadblocks, especially for sensitive services such as post-rape care,” the humanitarian office added.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights chairperson, Fortune Nyamande said both rural and urban expecting mothers have become vulnerable to maternal deaths and the deadly Covid-19.
“Most hospitals are now delaying attending to patients with conditions such as diabetes and pregnant women as they give priority to coronavirus cases. This in turn exposes women to the risk of giving birth without being given adequate attention which increases the maternal mortality rate,” Nyamande said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) Zimbabwe has launched a programme which has seen 714 village healthcare workers being trained on how to handle Covid-19 cases.
“Village health workers (VHW) were trained to expand their services beyond engaging communities in prevention of Covid-19 to include detection and response thereby contributing to containing the outbreak. Since the beginning of the training programme, 714 VHWs were trained nationwide and they received uniforms as well as health commodities for their work,” UN said.