EXPECTING mothers in Chinhoyi and surrounding areas — who were benefiting from the government’s free maternity service — yesterday started paying $45 for maternity fees and $9 on every visit until delivery.
Mashonaland West provincial medical director Wensilus Nyamayaro said the re-introduction of maternity fees was precipitated by unavailability of the government grant that was last received late last year.
“The superintendent of the hospital told us of the difficulties they are facing and that the labour wing could face imminent closure as there was no money to support it,” Nyamayaro said.
“We are caught between a hard rock and a hot plate and the only way out was to make expecting mothers pay for the services like anybody else than to close the labour wing.”
The hospital, which services patients and expecting mothers from as far as Kariba and neighbouring provinces, is in dire need of financial injection to enable it to provide health service.
One expecting mother Rita Mamvura, who is seven months pregnant, yesterday said she was surprised when was told that she would not be attended to until she paid $45 and $9 required by the hospital.
She said she could not afford as her husband was unemployed.
“I was just told that things have changed and that I should pay $45 maternity fees and $9,” she said.
“I don’t have that kind of money now as my husband is not working.”
Speaking during a provincial visit by Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa and his deputy Paul Chimedza two months ago, Chinhoyi District Hospital superintendent Collet Mawire said the institution was seriously underfunded.
Mawire said last year they had a budget of $3,2 million, which they were forced to revise downwards to $2,1 million.
He said the hospital ended up receiving a meagre $850 000 from government, which he said was not enough.
Last year, the Finance ministry budgeted only $10 million for maternity fees while Britain, through the Department for International Development, contributed
$100 million with the donor community expected to pour in more than $500 million.
Statistics show that out of every 100 000 live birth, 900 women die while giving birth in the country.