MEMBERS of Parliament should visit all the country’s hospitals and grab every woman that has given birth so that they do not pay any maternity user fees, Bulawayo East MP Tabitha Khumalo told Parliament on Tuesday.
Hospitals have a tendency of detaining mothers who fail to pay after giving birth.
Zanu PF Goromonzi West MP Beata Nyamupinga and Evelyn Masaiti of the MDC-T had raised a motion calling for maternal mortality to be declared a national disaster.
Khumalo (MDC-T) said the saddest thing about women’s issues was that they were trivialised and no action is taken until there is a catastrophe with maternity user fees being a good example.
“What we have to do honourable members is very simple; we have to go to each and every hospital and make sure we sit at the maternity wing and any woman that is there that gives birth, we grab them and take them home without paying if the government does not want to listen,” Khumalo told the house.
According to the 2010 to 2011 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey, maternal mortality ratio in Zimbabwe has more than doubled since 1990.
In 2010 to 2011, it was estimated at 960 deaths per live births. This translates to about 10 women dying every day due to pregnancy-related complications, which is three times higher than the global average.
However, the legislators said 15 women died daily.
“The maternity wings use more water than any other wing and as women we are expected to carry water to hospitals using containers that have infections which we move into hospitals,” Khumalo said.
“I think the time has come for the government to respect the issue that every maternity wing must have access to water 24/7 for the benefit of saving the lives of the mother and child.”
Experts say three contributors to maternal mortality were the delay in deciding to seek care, the delay in reaching a health facility and the delay in receiving appropriate care.
Other contributing factors, according to officials, were lack of attendance during birth, failure to access health facilities on time and to receive effective treatment by trained and qualified staff.
Khumalo said women could not pay a lot of money for sanitary pads and the government should subsidise everything to do with women’s biological issues.
“The government has to subsidise sanitary towels for women; it is a national duty; it is our biological right; it is not a privilege; it is a right to be a woman and I have a right to use hygienic sanitary ware which is subsidised by the government,” she said.
Zimbabwe’s once vibrant health sector seems to be on a recovery path following more than a decade of deterioration caused by an economic crisis.