BY Phyllis Mbanje
Health watchdogs have called for thorough investigations into the recent death of a woman during labour at Parirenyatwa Hospital amid allegations that she was left unattended for too long.
Sharon Munyonho’s body was found in a grisly state with the baby stuck between her legs.
“There is need for thorough investigations. It is sad and painful that she died while giving birth unattended at Parirenyatwa Hospital, one of the country’s largest referral institutions, which is supposed to be the shining beacon of professionalism in the health sector,” said Itai Rusike, the director for Community Working Group on Health (CWGH).
Rusike said what made the death more disturbing were reports that nurses on duty ignored her pleas for help.
Unconfirmed reports allege that the woman was in distress from around midnight, but nurses dismissed her pleas assuming she was clamouring for undue attention. She reportedly passed on together with her baby.
“This is unacceptable. No woman should die while giving life. The Community Working Group on Health would like to call upon the responsible authorities to urgently institute thorough investigations into this disturbing case, which could have been avoided,” Rusike said.
The health watchdog also challenged the Health Ministry to publicise the findings and take appropriate action against anyone found to have been negligent.
“The nursing profession is a calling and we cannot allow that noble profession to be tainted by rogue and mercenary individuals who vent their frustrations on innocent patients. Nurses and doctors are known to have hearts; hearts to love, to be patient and to save lives,” Rusike added.
Zimbabwe is still battling a high maternal mortality rate of over 500 deaths per 100 000 live births.
“CWGH is worried by the high number of maternal deaths in the country. It is disturbing that over 200 women have died while giving birth since the beginning of this year. This number is unacceptably high. In other countries, a single maternal death will result into a major inquiry and the outcomes will be made public,” Rusike said.
Statistics indicate that most of the maternal deaths are occurring at health facilities (92%), with 5% occurring at home and 3% elsewhere. Parirenyatwa Hospital spokesperson, Lenos Dhire said they were finalising a report on the findings.