‘Mbare backyard midwifery a health time bomb’

ZIMBABWE Urban and Rural Council Nurses Workers Union secretary-general Tedious Chisango yesterday said increased reliance on backyard midwives in the face of a three-month industrial action by doctors at public hospitals had exposed mothers and infants to infection.

BY RUVIMBO MUCHENJE

Chisango said often after giving birth, mothers can experience complications that backyard midwives have no capacity to handle.

“After delivery, a mother loses blood and may develop post-partum haemorrhage and those backyard midwives cannot solve that,” he said. “We are very much against those backyard deliveries.”

Chisango’s remarks came in the wake of reports that a backyard midwife, Esther Zinyoro, has helped deliver over 100 babies in her makeshift midwifery.

Desperation has driven hundreds of women to her backyard labour ward where about 13 women are assisted daily.

The cessation of operations at public hospitals and council clinics and the steep fees charged by private health facilities has seen many women considering other cheaper and easily available maternal health options such as backyard deliveries.

The Zimbabwe Hospitals Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) striking doctors have urged government to urgently address their plight so that they return to work and avoid the ticking health time bomb in Mbare.

“The ZHDA is deeply worried on how other emergencies that require urgent surgical and specialist expertise like uterine rupture, obstructed labour, breech presentation and pre-term deliveries, among others are being manage,” the statement read in part.

“We maintain that a speedy resolution of the labour dispute stand-off with medical doctors can avert these catastrophic experiences among the populace.”

The 72-year-old midwife’s labour ward has been condemned by health practitioners as not meeting the standards set for an expecting mother.

“The basic obstetric package as set by the World Health Organisation is an irreplaceable and minimum required in running a maternity care centre as far as skills, equipment and drugs are concerned,” the doctors’ statement added.

“Maternal and neonatal complications that may rise from home deliveries may include, but are not limited to cerebral palsy, eclampsia, post-partum haemorrhage, neonatal sepsis, tetanus and HIV transmission.”

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