GOVERNMENT has not started disbursing funds that will help in scrapping maternity user fees due to logistical challenges, Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe said on Wednesday.
REPORT BY VENERANDA LANGA
As a result, Khupe said, women were still being charged maternity user fees, pointing out this was unacceptable.
She was responding to Chimanimani West MP Lynette Karenyi in the House of Assembly, who wanted to find out when government would scrap maternity fees.
Khupe told MPs she would engage Health and Child Welfare minister Henry Madzorera over the delays as women continued suffering.
“There are logistical problems on how this money is supposed to be disbursed, but the bottom line is that women should not pay a single cent when they go to give birth,” Khupe said.
“I will engage Madzorera to ensure that money is disbursed urgently.”
The Finance ministry last year budgeted $10 million for maternity fees while the donor community put in $525 million and Britain, through the Department for International Development, contributed $100 million for the programme.
Khupe said it was important that the money be disbursed because out of every 100 000 live births, 960 women died while giving birth which translated to 15 women dying every day when giving life.
“We are saying this is unacceptable. Women are giving life to people like you MPs sitting in this House. Therefore, women cannot be punished for giving life. This is the reason why we advocated for free maternity, and when women go to give birth they are not supposed to pay a single cent,” she said.
“That is government policy and our development partners have been putting money into the Health Transition Fund for that.
“Government has also contributed something into the Health Transition Fund so that women do not pay a cent when they go to give birth.”