Poor Healthcare Endangering Mothers in Zimbabwe

Download PDF

Mother and child outside her home in Hopley Settlement, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Lack of access to appropriate prenatal and post-natal care in informal settlements in Zimbabwe is endangering mothers and increasing infant mortality rates. Forced into unsafe dwellings with no heat or running water when the government displaced 700,000 people in 2005, for women in these Zimbabwe communities pregnancy is a scary proposition.

According to Amnesty International research, “Although thousands of people have been living at Hopley for more than five years, there are no maternal or newborn health services in the community. Women often give birth in unhygienic conditions in their plastic shacks and without skilled birth attendants. In order to reach maternal health services, women have to travel to a municipal clinic in the suburb of Glen Norah, about 8km away.”

There is no ambulance service to these communities, forcing women to walk to the clinic while in labor because they cannot afford a taxi or bus. Women frequently give birth at home, unaided and alone. The women Amnesty interviewed stated they were aware of the importance of medical care during pregnancy and after delivery, but due to costs and inaccessibility, they were not able to seek this vital healthcare. Inability to afford healthcare affects 75% of women in the lowest five wealth groups in Zimbabwe, of which most of the residents in these informal settlements fall.

Further, 45% of mothers in Zimbabwe have no access to a postnatal check by a trained health provider. Amnesty International documented the deaths of 21 infants in a six month period in 2010. Adequate living conditions and access to necessary health services after delivery could have prevented many of these deaths.

We need to demand the Zimbabwean government takes care of its women and children. Tell government officials of the importance of providing affordable healthcare, placed in the community. No more women should have to give birth alone and then watch their babies die.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

6 thoughts on “Poor Healthcare Endangering Mothers in Zimbabwe

  1. Your recommendation/demand that care for pregnant women, and healthcare generally, be sought from and provided through the State is dangerous.

    The State is the reason the people of Zimbabwe are destitute.

    The State does not create anything – it only destroys, as we have seen in Zimbabwe.

    Also, the women of Zimbabwe are not stupid – if their natal care they are able to provide for themselves were as deficient as you describe, they would not be having babies.

    Key part of the previous phrase: "for themselves".

    Hard as it may be to believe, Zimbabwe and its women have been having babies forever.

    They do not need the attention of the State to continue doing so.

    What they need is peace and prosperity which requires the State to vacate their lives.

    For Amnesty to be demanding the State – the greatest abuser of Humanity yet devised by Man – the greatest destroyer of Human Rights – to intervene in these vulnerable women's lives in the name of natal care is offensive to say the least.

    Human Rights are not derived from, nor provided through, the State.

    The kind of messaging in this blog entry is enough to make me reconsider the next donation I make to Amnesty.

    There are Evangelical Christian organizations in Zimbabwe providing natal care – perhaps they are a more worthy recipient of our donations than an advocate of Statism?

  2. Your recommendation/demand that care for pregnant women, and healthcare generally, be sought from and provided through the State is dangerous.

    The State is the reason the people of Zimbabwe are destitute.

    The State does not create anything – it only destroys, as we have seen in Zimbabwe.

    Also, the women of Zimbabwe are not stupid – if their natal care they are able to provide for themselves were as deficient as you describe, they would not be having babies.

    Key part of the previous phrase: “for themselves”.

    Hard as it may be to believe, Zimbabwe and its women have been having babies forever.

    They do not need the attention of the State to continue doing so.

    What they need is peace and prosperity which requires the State to vacate their lives.

    For Amnesty to be demanding the State – the greatest abuser of Humanity yet devised by Man – the greatest destroyer of Human Rights – to intervene in these vulnerable women’s lives in the name of natal care is offensive to say the least.

    Human Rights are not derived from, nor provided through, the State.

    The kind of messaging in this blog entry is enough to make me reconsider the next donation I make to Amnesty.

    There are Evangelical Christian organizations in Zimbabwe providing natal care – perhaps they are a more worthy recipient of our donations than an advocate of Statism?

  3. JC-
    Thank you for your comment. I am not sure what you mean by Zimbabwe's women providing adequate natal care for themselves. I would not consider giving birth alone adequate natal care for anyone. It is also not by choice that Zimbabwe women are providing their own care-they would prefer to have access to medical facilities and know that it is important to have adequate care for themselves and their babies. Nor have I intimated anywhere that Zimbabwe women are stupid. In fact, Zimbabweans are some of the most resourceful, inspiring and intelligent persons I have met.

    While I agree that the Zimbabwe government's poor policies are the reason healthcare services are shamefully lacking, that is also the very reason why its important to pressure governments to honor their responsibilities to their citizens. Women live in Hopley because the government made them homeless. The government also refuses to provide reparations nor adequate services in the informal settlements. Further, the government is misappropriating diamond money for its personal use. If used for services rather than personal gain, some of these desparate inadequacies could be addressed.

    Despite all this, the government has affirmative obligations under international law to provide an adequate standard of living and healthcare. Amnesty International is not in a position to pressure private organizations to provide these services, nor can we tell people to donate to private organizations because we do not have the capacity to make sure people's money would be used wisely. All we can do is hold government's accountable for their failings. So we ask people to let the Zimbabwe government know that we are watching them, recording their failings and reminding them of their obligations. It is unfortunate that you find this offensive.

    Sarah Hager
    Zimbabwe Country Specialist
    AIUSA

  4. Sarah & JC are speaking of the same land.

    But they speak from different places.

    Sarah speaks from the position of rights activism.

    JC from the perspective of history, an ideology of history.

    Of course, Sarah doesn't think women in Zimbabwe ….. or anywhere …. are stupid. Nor is she "offensive" here or anywhere in her blogs.

    She just demands the state do its supposed duty.

    Yet JC's description of the historical State is accurate.

    Man's worst invention ….. ( if you count money out ).

    "The State doesn't create anything … it only destroys."

    A resonating, haunting truth … in Africa especially, but elsewhere as well.

    JC's point is, we can't ask the Minotaur to help its victims.

    Or as Audrey Lorde might have said, the master's tools can't free the slave in the master's house.

    Not only that, JC points out, it's degrading ( "offensive" ) to the victim herself to
    be put by us in a position of accepting the oppressor's poisoned pittance as relief.

    JC's fatal flaw is ideology's …. "his" belief the women don't NEED help, they're all right, have always been.

    Here ( with ideology ) he himself goes against his history, & becomes ahistorical.

    Sarah however is knowingly lodged inside history's temporal prison …. she knows neither she nor the Z women are going anywhere very soon ( unless there's an "Egyptian happening" ), so they've to survive inside the master's house, using his tools, for now.

    While i go with Sarah on this one ( as well as her other key issues ), i turn back for a last look at JC's vision of the Medusa State … & am transfixed myself at the horror it has been, almost ALWAYS, throughout history .

  5. JC-
    Thank you for your comment. I am not sure what you mean by Zimbabwe’s women providing adequate natal care for themselves. I would not consider giving birth alone adequate natal care for anyone. It is also not by choice that Zimbabwe women are providing their own care-they would prefer to have access to medical facilities and know that it is important to have adequate care for themselves and their babies. Nor have I intimated anywhere that Zimbabwe women are stupid. In fact, Zimbabweans are some of the most resourceful, inspiring and intelligent persons I have met.

    While I agree that the Zimbabwe government’s poor policies are the reason healthcare services are shamefully lacking, that is also the very reason why its important to pressure governments to honor their responsibilities to their citizens. Women live in Hopley because the government made them homeless. The government also refuses to provide reparations nor adequate services in the informal settlements. Further, the government is misappropriating diamond money for its personal use. If used for services rather than personal gain, some of these desparate inadequacies could be addressed.

    Despite all this, the government has affirmative obligations under international law to provide an adequate standard of living and healthcare. Amnesty International is not in a position to pressure private organizations to provide these services, nor can we tell people to donate to private organizations because we do not have the capacity to make sure people’s money would be used wisely. All we can do is hold government’s accountable for their failings. So we ask people to let the Zimbabwe government know that we are watching them, recording their failings and reminding them of their obligations. It is unfortunate that you find this offensive.

    Sarah Hager
    Zimbabwe Country Specialist
    AIUSA

  6. Sarah & JC are speaking of the same land.

    But they speak from different places.

    Sarah speaks from the position of rights activism.

    JC from the perspective of history, an ideology of history.

    Of course, Sarah doesn’t think women in Zimbabwe ….. or anywhere …. are stupid. Nor is she “offensive” here or anywhere in her blogs.

    She just demands the state do its supposed duty.

    Yet JC’s description of the historical State is accurate.

    Man’s worst invention ….. ( if you count money out ).

    “The State doesn’t create anything … it only destroys.”

    A resonating, haunting truth … in Africa especially, but elsewhere as well.

    JC’s point is, we can’t ask the Minotaur to help its victims.

    Or as Audrey Lorde might have said, the master’s tools can’t free the slave in the master’s house.

    Not only that, JC points out, it’s degrading ( “offensive” ) to the victim herself to
    be put by us in a position of accepting the oppressor’s poisoned pittance as relief.

    JC’s fatal flaw is ideology’s …. “his” belief the women don’t NEED help, they’re all right, have always been.

    Here ( with ideology ) he himself goes against his history, & becomes ahistorical.

    Sarah however is knowingly lodged inside history’s temporal prison …. she knows neither she nor the Z women are going anywhere very soon ( unless there’s an “Egyptian happening” ), so they’ve to survive inside the master’s house, using his tools, for now.

    While i go with Sarah on this one ( as well as her other key issues ), i turn back for a last look at JC’s vision of the Medusa State … & am transfixed myself at the horror it has been, almost ALWAYS, throughout history .