The current midwives shortage in Zimbabwe has reportedly turned deadly as heartbreaking stories of birth complications and maternal deaths circulate on social media and other platforms, The Standard reports.
The sad situation has lead to other complications like other non-midwifery health workers delivering babies among other problems. Inadequately equipped hospitals and a dire economic environment have reportedly driven other expectant mothers to go back to giving birth in the backyards of older women also known as Mbuya Nyamukuta.
Speaking about the current situation in his field, Zimbabwe Confederation of Midwives president Emmanuel Mahlangu said the situation is regrettable as he made a heartfelt plea to the government to adequately equip hospitals and maternity wards:
Our current situation is regrettable. The women of our nation deserve better.
The future generations in today’s newborns can be better protected. The overall prevailing economic environment, the Covid-19 pandemic and the pre-existing shortage of midwives coupled with low recognition have collectively left a demotivated and despairing midwifery workforce.
Mahlangu said burnouts were the order of the day in maternity wards as midwives were overworked due to a number of reasons:
The ongoing skills drain to local non-midwifery employment and international nursing jobs are a dark cloud on the maternity services. Burnout appears to be the order of the day in many maternity service centres in the country and more so in the capital city.
He also indicated that the midwives were also incapacitated to an extend:
Being in an environment where other women are able to make better income from any other ventures other than public health maternity services tends to create a midwifery workforce that is preoccupied with personal concerns more than the caring profession.
The nation needs to restore the dignity of the midwives, which will in turn bring protection to the health of the women, newborns and their families.
He urged the nation to change their mindset and do away with religious practices that put women in labour at risk:
All things being equal, such embarrassing incidents of women delivering outside health facilities should only exist in history textbooks.
We need, as a nation, to closely evaluate religious practices that put women at risk by encouraging delivery by non- trained personnel, late booking for maternity services and many child deaths.
Mahlangu decried the lack of resources and said:
We need to sanitise our health delivery services from repeated disruptions arising from human resource concerns.We need an enabling environment of adequate resources such as ambulances, equipment and consumables.
Regulations for midwifery should be updated to international standards and the profession has to be acknowledged as such. Families need to prepare well for pregnancy and make ready emergency plans for delivery.
Last year. 7 babies died during delivery in one of Harare’s hospitals and the story went viral on social media and caused a public outcry as people urged the government to look into the matter.