Govt challenged over midwives remuneration

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GOVERNMENT has been urged to offer midwives better remuneration and improve their working conditions in order to promote staff retention, a Cabinet minister has said.

Phyllis Mbanje

Speaking at commemorations to mark  World Midwives day in Harare yesterday, Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development minister Oppah Muchinguri said the role of midwives was key in addressing the challenge of maternal deaths  currently  pegged at 525 mothers per 100 000 live births.

Muchinguri said the figure was still too high and that no woman should ever die while giving birth.

She said government needed to urgently look into the issue of staff retention to avoid a mass exodus of key staff.

“No woman should have to risk her life or that of her baby by going through childbirth without expert care,” Muchinguri said.

“Our Constitution says in Section 76 Article 1 that every citizen has basic rights to health and we should therefore address their conditions as a matter of urgency.”

Midwives across the country are unhappy about their working conditions and have threatened to down tools if the responsible authorities do not reconsider their grievances.

Speaking at the same occasion which ran under the theme Midwives — Changing the World One Family At A Time, the president of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Midwives (ZICOM) Lilian Dodzo called for the re-introduction of the midwives allowance as motivation.

“Two-thirds of the deaths are avoidable if there is a regulated system which provides for the midwives and caters for their concerns which are currently not being addressed adequately,” she said.

The director for Maternal and Child Health Intergrated Programme (MCHIP) Rose Kambarami said the country needed to invest in more midwives in order to bring down the high maternal, newborn and child mortality.

“The figure is unacceptably high and we need to develop high-impact interventions. I implore all partners to focus on midwives,” she said.

The maternal mortality ratio tripled in the past decade from 283 deaths per 100 000 live births in 1994 to 960 which has now been reduced to 525/ 100 000.

Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa said of the 8 000 trained midwives in the country, only a few were actually practising.

He said more was needed to lessen the burden on the practicing midwives.

Parirenyatwa said the government should consider reversing the concept of freezing posts in the ministry as this had added to the shortages.

“The freezing of posts should be done away with because key posts are not being filled, leaving huge gaps,” he said.

Parirenyatwa said his ministry was committed to ensuring that user fees were scrapped so that more pregnant women accessed health facilities.

Speaking on the Health Transition Fund allowances which have caused a lot of concern and disagreements among the midwives, Parirenyatwa said they would soon convene a stakeholders’ meeting to work out how the fund would be shared.

“We need to end this discord and so we will call for a stakeholders’ meeting at which we will discuss how to share the fund fairly.”

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