Birth records a right for everyone – minister

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Health and Child Welfare minister Henry Madzorera said newly-born babies should not be denied birth records at hospitals if their mothers failed to pay maternity fees.

Madzorera said this while responding to questions in the House of Assembly last Wednesday.

Nkulumane MP Thamsanqa Mahlangu had asked Madzorera to explain government policy on releasing birth records for babies whose mothers would have failed to pay maternity fees.

Mahlangu alleged of late mothers who gave birth at hospitals were refused birth records for non-payment of service fees, including those who had failed to pay the outstanding amounts during the Zimbabwean dollar era.

Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe called for the removal of maternity fees at health institutions, arguing giving birth was a national duty and maternal care should be accessible to every woman.

“All babies are entitled to birth records and we will not deny giving a baby birth records just because the mother has not paid user fees,” said Madzorera.

“We would like to know which institutions are doing that so that we rectify. We are going to look into our institutions to see if there are any that are actually denying birth records to babies because the mother has not paid,” he said.

Madzorera said birth records were not bought, but were just given to every newborn.

“We know that in the country we still have a User Fee Policy at all our hospitals and everybody pays user fees, a thing which we hope to abolish very soon when we put payment arrangements in place,” he said.

Improvement in maternal health services is Zimbabwe’s number five priority area under its Millennium Development Goals programme.

Although reports show that figures of maternal deaths were declining, pregnancy-related complications due to shortage of qualified midwives and limited access to antenatal care due to prohibitive maternity fees and little post-natal care, were still recorded.