By Robert Tapfumaneyi
ZIMBABWE’s current economic problems have resulted in more women dying during childbirth, a senior government official has said.
Director in the Ministry of Finance, Taguma Mahonde said this on Wednesday while presenting the UNFPA 2019 State of the World Population Report in Harare.
However, the report also shows that Zimbabwe has also made progress in ensuring reproductive health and rights.
Although still high, the country’s maternal mortality rate has been reduced from 960/100,000 live births in 2009 to 614/100,000 live births in 2015 according to the report.
“In 1994, we were looking at 283/100 000 and by 2018 we were looking at 651/100 000.
“This has gone up, the issues have always been why has it gone up? This is where we draw the linkage between economic development and social services delivery,” Mahonde said.
“You are aware that the period 2001 to 2008 was one of the worst periods that we experienced in Zimbabwe economically and that economic deterioration had an impact on social service delivery in particular health.”
Mahonde urged authorities to declare the situation a national disaster.
“That economic decline has now seen us losing 651 mothers per 100 000 live births, which is not a joke.
“Remember when an aeroplane comes down it is declared a national disaster but here we are saying we have three aircrafts that are always coming down, full of women who are on national duty and we don’t see this as a national disaster,” the official said.
“So this is an issue which really needs our attention but it’s mostly to do with the economic situation we experienced from 2001 to 2008.
“In fact, if we look at the statistics, they show that in-between the figures exceeded 600 but now it has started coming down.”
Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube said as the world commemorates 25 years of commitment to the International Conference on Population and development (ICPD), government remains committed to ensuring women and young people live better and healthier productive lives free from violence, with dignity and with universal access to essential health services.
“The government of Zimbabwe is committed to addressing some of these issues through increased domestic funding to the health and social sectors,” Ncube said in a statement read on his behalf.
“Government greatly values the support the health sector has been receiving from development partners and organisations working in the health and social sectors to improve quality of health care.”