A GOKWE North chief has imposed a penalty of a goat for every home delivery in an effort to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates.
Chief Chireya’s measures were effected last year following a rise in deliveries in non-medical institutions.
By Simon Phiri
Authorities at Chireya Mission Hospital, a referral centre of five clinics with a catchment of approximately 29 000 people, told Southern Eye last Friday that the measure had helped increase the number of expecting mothers who were now visiting the hospital for pre- and post-natal care.
Villagers in Gokwe still rever goats as key pointers of wealth and each fully-grown goat ranges from $30 to $60 on the informal market, depending on physical size and type.
“We have had a remarkable decrease in incidents of home deliveries mainly due to the efforts by Chief Chireya to penalise those that are reluctant to register their pregnancies on time,” Anne Chitehwe, an official at the institution, said.
“All those that deliver at home or rather in non-health facilities, risking their lives and those of the new-born babies, are required to pay a goat to the local village head. To end the spread of HIV and Aids, the hospital now requires the expecting mothers to come with their husbands whenever they come for medical check up, so that we test them both.”
Father Tawanda Makuvaza, head of the institution, echoed similar sentiments.
In an interview last Friday, Chief Chireya said the move was meant to end risks associated with home deliveries.
“We are quite aware of the risks associated with home deliveries. We lose new-born babies and even their mothers through such practices, but some members of the society are still reluctant to register their pregnancies on time. The goat penalty is proving to be effective as we are now seeing more families taking expecting women to health institutions in fear of losing their hard-earned livestock,” the chief said.
Home deliveries are the major cause of high mortality rates in rural areas, with villagers claiming that scarcity of health institutions, among other factors, cause expecting mothers to deliver at home.