People have been lamenting the cost of delivering a baby in Zimbabwe at private hospitals. With the current health crisis at public hospitals most pregnant women are opting to go for private services which are costing an arm and a leg.
Most public hospitals are not fully operational owing to an ongoing strike by nurses and doctors as well as lack of resources. Mbuya Nehanda hospital, which used to be the pride of many people is now a mere shadow of its former glory. Likewise Harare hospital is now just but a name. Visits to gynaecologists are now ranging between US 50 dollars and US 30 dollars per visit. These are mainly done on a two weekly basis in the first few months and later on a monthly basis in the last trimester. Some blood tests also need to be done which cost anything ranging from US 50 dollars to US 200 dollars depending on the number of tests prescribed by your doctor. These include those for HIV, Syphilis and blood type a whole list of others.
A normal delivery at a private hospital costs around US 600 dollars for hospital use only. The gynaecologist will need to be paid about US 400-500 dollars. If extra items are used during delivery they will also need to be paid for. After delivery a paediatrician is required to assess on the health of the baby and you have to part ways with yet another US 200 dollars. Now that is for normal delivery only.
For a caesarian section to be done you will need the services of an anaesthetist who can charge anything between US 300-700 dollars depending on the type of drug that he will have to use and the dosage. Add to that the cost of having a gynaecologist and the charge for the use of the hospital as well as paediatrician fees and you are left with a staggering amount that most people are not able to afford. Such is the sad state of affairs for pregnant women in Zimbabwe.
A few months ago, seven babies died in one night at Harare hospital after doctors failed to operate on all the mothers at the same time. Lack of theatre resources, shortage of staff and incapacitation has been cited as the major cause of maternal deaths in the country.
Most people have called on government and the health minister to come up with an urgent, solid plan to revamp the health system.