Maternity Shelters: Pan To The Fire?

Maternity shelters have been credited for the significant drop in maternal mortality, but for some pregnant women, long walks to fetch water are not the exercise they need.

A heavily pregnant Thokozile Mudenda carries her 10 litres bucket of water to the Maternity shelter. She has passed her Expected Date of Delivery (EDD) and the health experts have advised her to stay in Maternity Shelter as she awaits the arrival of her baby.

Although she takes fetching water as a way of exercising in preparation for labour pains, most pregnant women and patients who come to Mwemba clinic in the Hwange district are crying foul over the lack of electricity, water, and mobile network connectivity at the facility.

“It is part of the requirements here to bring a bucket of water, I will be using the water as I wait for my delivery date, when the water finishes, I walk to the burst pipes to get some water,” says Mudenda.

Mwemba clinic which is 30km away from Hwange town serves villagers from Mwemba, Kasase, Mashala, Kasibo and Makwa among others.

The situation at Mwemba Clinic does not only affect the patients but also health workers from this clinic who walk one and a half kilometres to fetch water from leaking pipes at the ZESA complex.

“This is not proper for a health institution, patients need easy access to water, the unavailability of water and electricity at a clinic is a health “time bomb,” says a nurse who prefers anonymity to avoid retribution.

She says patients are advised to bring buckets of water and she feels it is inappropriate.

Over 200km away, in Binga, pregnant women had a similar experience at Sianzundu Rural Health Centre before the installation of a borehole. Using mothers’ shelters, Zimbabwe intends to reduce the maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 pregnancies by 2030.

In the latest Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) 2019 report, Zimbabwe recorded a decline in maternal mortality from 614 to 462 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies since 2014.

Back in Hwange, the anonymous nurse says the local council has not been forthcoming with assistance.

“We have tried to engage the Hwange Rural District Council to help us in solving the electrical fault at the clinic, water and the improvement of communication connectivity but our efforts seem to be falling on deaf ears. There are vaccines which need to be kept in cooler places but it’s impossible because of lack of electricity,” she says.

Lawrence Moyo from Mwemba says the clinic is of paramount importance, but the lack of electricity and water is affecting the community.

The clinic was built by Hwange Rural District Council, it was once electrified using CAMPFIRE funds in 2013 but an electrical fault occurred two years ago and the fault has never been repaired ever since.

“There is also no network for any mobile service provider making it hard for communication purposes especially for patients who will be admitted at the clinic,” adds Moyo.

Bernard Ncube the Village head says it’s high time the responsible authorities take charge of the clinic. He says the Mwemba community once pledged to ferry water for the patients but they also got tired as only a few villagers were committed to the act.

“Villagers once came together and went with drums of water to the clinic but it was only for a short time,” he says.

Prior to the shortage of water at the clinic, the health facility used to get water from the Zambezi-Hwange Colliery pump but it has been down for a while as well.

“The Zambezi-Hwange colliery pump pipe has been down for a while, although a well-wisher once donated a pump for the community and the clinic, the problem remained unsolved because there is again need of electricity for the pump to work properly,” says Ncube.

Although the government has set us aside over two million dollars for the procurement of medical equipment for district hospitals and upgrading of health facilities the community says it is appealing for the Hwange business people to assist in electrifying the clinic.

Source: The Citizen Bulletin

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