The Combined Harare Residents Association calls upon the Harare City Council to act decisively, stop harboring and nurturing extortion practices by health personnel in council clinics among pregnant women seeking maternal health services.
We are reliably informed and have received reports from Mabvuku, Highfields and Mufakose Poly Clinics of health personnel who are arm twisting women in labor to pay a personal extra maternal fee (chebasa) in forex ranging between USD25-40 in return for safe deliveries.
It is disturbing that pregnant women who are not able to pay the bribe are threatened with not receiving medical attention or referred to Mbuya Nehanda or Sally Mugabe Maternal hospitals.
We bemoan that some pregnant women who cannot make payments in forex are being neglected or not served, while those who have foreign currency are receipted in RTGS as health personnel use their RTGS bank cards to make payments into the Council accounts and they keep the US dollars.
The situation has been further worsened by the weak and dysfunctional complaint mechanism system that involves perpetrators of corruption in the solution matrix as some of the Sisters in Charge for some clinics are being fingered in the league of corruption.
We further condemn the inhuman and degrading treatment being experienced by pregnant women seeking maternal health services in council clinics and call for professionalism among the health personnel.
Giving birth is a national duty that requires commitment and dedication from those delivering the service and it has a potential to take lives of both the mother or the child.
We reiterate that maternal health is a human right protected under section 76 (1) of the Zimbabwe Constitution and denying women maternal health services is a serious gross human rights violation.
We would like to warn City Health personnel in Council clinics that any further negligence when offering maternal health services will attract litigation targeting both the personnel involved and also the City of Harare as an entity.
We demand immediate action and urgent interventions from the local authority to curb these gross acts of corruption that have crippled municipal maternal health service provision in Harare.
Source: Combined Harare Residents Association