The current crop of nurses, especially those trained during the severe economic downturn of the 2008/2009 period, lack practical skills — a situation that has worsened the country’s maternal mortality rates, the Ministry of Health has said.
Director of Public Health in the ministry, Portia Marangadzira, said this while explaining reasons behind the country’s high maternal mortality rates before the Parliamentary thematic committee on Millennium Development Goals.
“If someone was trained two years ago, it means they were trained during the crisis, when a lot of experienced trainers, doctors and midwives had left the country for greener pastures. It now depends on the initiative of the nurses or doctors to ensure that patients are well-monitored,” said Marangadzira.
“We are largely an inexperienced workforce and even the doctors lack practical knowledge as compared to the old crop which practised before Zimbabwe experienced economic problems,” she said. Marangadzira underscored the importance of experienced midwives saying the void they have left would be difficult to fill.
“I am a qualified doctor myself, but I can confess that some of the practical skills like tying the umbilical cord after someone gives birth were imparted to me by midwives who had practised for several years. There is a great difference between theoretical and practical knowledge,” she said.
Marangadzira was responding to Mashonaland East Senator, Chief Nyamukoho, who had questioned the apparent increase in current maternal mortality rates.
Chief Nyamukoho said the crisis was disturbing as the general assumption was modern technology and medicines would improve the situation unlike in the past when most women gave birth at home under the care of traditional midwives.