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Pregnant woman and gruesome births still a cause of concern

Pregnant woman and gruesome births still a cause of concern

Picture of Tariro  Guwira
traditional birth attendant entering a shelter to check on a pregnant woman
Traditional Birth attendant checking on a pregnant woman who is about to give birth

“Our church does not allow us to go to hospitals for medication and child birth as for that I did not do anything wrong here your worship,” said Nyamukondiwa Lazaro a member of the Johanne Marange Apostolic sect  when he appeared before a magistrate facing murder charges.

Nyamukondiwa allegedly slit open an unconscious woman’s womb with a razor blade in a bid to remove an embryo  which ended up in a messy tragedy.

He had been asked as per the Apostolic sect church rules to operate on Mwanaka Maria (25), who was heavily pregnant and had birth complications earlier that day trying to give birth at home unattended.

Nyamukondiwa used a  razor blade to slit open Mwanaka’s womb without hesitation which resulted in Mwanaka bleeding to death and giving enough reason for her relatives to drag Nyamukondiwa to court for murdering her.

A  post mortem was conducted and revealed that Mwanaka was still alive the moment she was mutilated by the razor blade.

Apostolic sects are widespread in Manicaland province and around the country according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat), 38 percent of Zimbabwean women identify as Apostolic and 74 percent of these live in rural areas.

The Apostolic sect shuns the use of hospitals for medications and child birth but rather they rely on holy water  also called 'muteuro' in shona.

"Apostolic birth camps, conditions are often unsanitary and birth attendants lack the training and medical equipment to deal with child birth complications like haemorrhages, infection, high blood pressure, prolonged labor, and breach presentation, which can put the life of both mother and baby at risk.

“During labour there is no sterile equipment and infection control procedures are not followed.As for this case it was out of control to use a razor blade ,” said deputy Minister of Health and Child Care(MoHCC) ,Mr  Aldrin Musiiwa at the sidelines of a National Aids Council meeting.

ARASA Community Healthy Advocate, Patson Sazunza said it seems some pregnant women are still giving birth at home in Marange and Nyanga and other areas in Manicaland where a 'mbuya nyamukuta' or a traditional birth attendant takes care of them.

“We are preaching the word of ending maternal mortality but some women are still considering these places ,"said Sazunza.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) for Zimbabwe declined from 960 to 614 deaths per 100 000 live births be between 2010 to 2014

However despite this decline, WHO still feel the death rate remains unacceptably high as Zimbabwe’s millennium development goal (MDGs) on reducing maternal mortality was to reduce the maternal mortality rate to 71deaths per 100 000 lives by 2015.

Sazunza added that though the ministry of health and child care has a policy of free care at clinic level like other primary health care services, maternity services are meant to be rendered free of charge in all primary health care facilities but on the ground people are made to pay for the service and the exemption policy has not been applied uniformly.

“This requirement to pay is one factor that has propelled people to use TBAs as the payments are negotiated, can be in kind and have flexible payment option thereby causing harm to their health and babies be it if something goes wrong that needs urgent treatment ,”he added.

He applauded government on introducing incentives being paid traditional birth attendants of providing them of groceries in order for them to refer every pregnant woman to a clinic and hospital for professional attendance.

“Many women have benefited from these homes, commonly referred to as matumba (temporary shelters).

“Government came up with a strategy way to curb maternal mortality by giving mbuya nyamukuta groceries for referring a pregnant woman to hospitals. It has been working in some areas but some are adamant and continue attending to these women and some get killed because of complications at birth or continuous bleeding after birth,” Sazunza said.

Pregnancy complications are usually undetectable during early stages and often become apparent during labour, especially if expecting mothers do not go for regular check-ups.

For women who live far away from healthy facilities, such complications can be fatal.

As a way to archive MDGs which has to do with reducing maternal mortality the maternity waiting home strategy was designed to counter and mitigate these challenges and became an option to ensure safe motherhood.

According to who it was generally accepted that more women from remote areas would be able to access maternity in time if there were accommodated at maternity waiting homes in villages and assisting them to give birth at clinics.

“32 village healthy workers for rural and eight for urban were trained to assist in growth monitoring process of children, immunization follow up of pregnancies and health education,” said Sazunza.

Llyod Dembure, provincial coordinator for Zimbabwe National Network for people living with HIV, (ZNNP+) said the issue of maternal health care should be tackled head on.

“It is a serious concern .”said Dembure

The UN consider a maternal mortality ratio of less than 100 and 299 as moderately low and high when it is 300 to 499.

Five hundred or more is very high with a ratio above 100000 live births and considered extremely high. 




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