Scrap hospital user fees for pregnant women: Khupe

MDC-T leader Dr Thokozani Khupe has lobbied for free health services for all pregnant women, to reduce maternal mortality.

While Zimbabwe has recorded a decline in the maternal mortality rate, according to the 2019 Multiple Indicator Survey which showed that the country`s maternal mortality ratio went down from 614 in 2014 to 462, Khupe believes more needs to be done.

Addressing Parliament, Wednesday, Dr Khupe noted that health facilities should provide resources such as cotton wool, methylated spirit among others items which are needed during child delivery because making them buy these items is indirectly making them pay hospital user fees. 

She noted that the government keeps going back and forth on addressing the issue of providing free services for child bearing women. 

“User fees for pregnant women must be scrapped totally. We have been talking about this for a long time and government has been going forwards and backwards because at some time, user fees were scrapped and then they were later retained,” said Dr Khupe. 

“What is happening right now is that even if women are not paying that $50 or $60, they are asked to buy cotton wool, methylated spirit or sanitary wear – or all the necessities that they need in order for them to give birth.  They are being made to pay user fees indirectly because that money is supposed to buy these items.”

Dr Khupe described child birth as a national duty which should not come with a financial burden for women. 

“When women give birth, they are performing a national duty, and therefore they must not be punished for that because they are giving birth to the Speaker of Parliament who is sitting here, Minister of Finance who is sitting here, all of us Members of Parliament and to the President of this country,” she said. 

“Therefore, user fees for pregnant women must be scrapped totally.  A woman must just walk into a clinic or hospital, go for their antenatal care free of charge and walk into a hospital to give birth and find an environment which is conducive because they are giving birth to a person who is going to be a President of this country.”

The opposition leader reiterated that other countries actually pay women for performing such duties for their nation hence the least that Zimbabwe can do is to scrap off all hospital fees. 

“No woman must pay a cent because women are dying whilst giving birth.  This is why our mortality rate is increasing every day. So this issue must be dealt with,” she said. 

“When a woman is pregnant and she has money, she must not use it for ante-natal care so that she gives birth in a hospital or clinic.  She must use it to pay school fees for her children or to buy food.”

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