By Anna Chibamu
FIRST Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa has warned Zimbabwean nurses who often arrogantly break for tea even when faced with cases of expecting mothers needing their urgent attention during labour.
She was speaking at this year’s belated World Breastfeeding Week commemorations held at Mahusekwa Hospital in Marondera district on Friday.
The President’s wife called on government to craft new laws that will make it possible for culprits to be held liable for any negligence-related deaths on mothers even when such death befalls their new-born babies.
“Giving birth is a ‘national duty’ so we should not neglect women who bring in life on earth,” Mrs Mnangagwa said.
“When we hear that these women have died due to neglect, it pains us. They must die of natural causes and not due to carelessness by health staff.”
The former Chirumhanzu legislator said some health workers would prefer breaking for tea when expecting mothers are writhing in labour pain.
“Our women are losing lives because some health staff go for tea when someone needs attention at a crucial time of giving birth,” she said.
“We want to hear from the Ministry of Health and Child Care if there is a law that allows for prosecution.
“There should be a law so that those neglecting these women are held responsible for any consequences of such carelessness.”
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s statistics, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) for Zimbabwe has declined from 960 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010 to 614 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2014.
Though the ratio is still considered unacceptably high, WHO still views this as progress as the situation has been worse before.
The Public Health Bill (2017) that has been tabled in Parliament seeks to replace, update and align to the Constitution, the law relating to Public Health.
The present Public Health Act was passed in 1924 and calls have been made on its updating to meet the current health challenges and needs of the population.