70 home births over two months in Bulawayo Professor Solwayo Ngwenya

Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, [email protected]

BULAWAYO recorded over 70 home births in two months with reports suggesting that these may result in the country failing to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals on reducing maternal and neonatal deaths. 

Reasons behind the risky decision to deliver at home without skilled personnel vary from high ambulance service fees, maternity fees and poor health-seeking behaviour from pregnant teenagers.

Some women have also delivered at home as they could not afford to timely commute to public hospitals where maternity fees were scrapped.

According to recent council minutes, 72 babies were born before arrival at council clinics in September and October this year. 

The same report shows that the number of women who do antenatal care visits also went up.

“We recorded 38 born-before-arrival deliveries in September, the figure went slightly down to 34 in October. There was an increase in the number of new and repeat antenatal care visits compared to the previous month, from 1 054 to 1 098. The number of deliveries also increased slightly from 301 to 309 in October,” read the minutes. 

The infant mortality rate for Zimbabwe is 34 096 deaths per 1 000 live births, a 2,65 percent decline from 2022. In 2022 the infant mortality rate stood at 35 025 deaths per 1 000 live births, a 2,58 percent decline from 2021.

Zimbabwe like the rest of the world is working on reducing the infant mortality rate to 12 deaths per 100 000 live births. The country has more than halved maternal mortality rates in a decade, from 960 per 100 000 live births in 2010 to 462 in 2019, the latest report by Unicef Zimbabwe shows.

A maternal mortality rate is considered a primary and important indicator of a country’s overall health status or quality of life.

Commenting on the statistics, renowned Bulawayo gynaecologist Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said home births could derail the country from meeting targets of addressing maternal and neonatal deaths. 

“Home births are bad and every birth should be attended by a skilled person in case complications develop during and after delivery. 

Home births are associated with a lot of poor outcomes like stillbirths and severe infections for both mother and baby hence our encouragement that women should endeavour to have every delivery attended to by skilled healthcare practitioners,” said Prof Ngwenya. 

“Women should also ensure they register every pregnancy on time and attend antenatal care visits to ensure no complications develop during delivery so that lives are saved.”

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