The Zimbabwean maternal mortality ratio is at 960 deaths per 100,000 live births (reference). It is one of the highest ratios in the world, outside of countries at war.
A key contributing factor to maternal mortality and morbidity in Zimbabwe, particularly in rural areas, is the lack of adequate, reliable and affordable transport services. Petrol is very expensive, electricity is scarce and unreliable, and many women cannot afford to pay for transport. Some pregnant women walk very large distances to medical facilities.
When women choose to give birth in their villages, without proper medical care or sanitary hygienic conditions, medical complications during delivery can be disastrous. Severe bleeding, obstructed labour, rectovaginal fistulas and pre-eclampsia can all result in the death of women or their babies. Just as importantly, unassisted births in villages are twice as likely to result in the transmission of HIV from an HIV-positive mother to her child.
To address these problems, it is desirable for pregnant women to:
- stay in a Waiting Mothers’ Home at a hospital or health clinic for the final weeks of pregnancy, so that the birthing process can be supervised in a safe medical environment
- be provided with transport services which can convey them safely and comfortably to a Waiting Mothers’ Home, ahead of their delivery date