Lack of midwives increases maternal deaths in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe records about 2,000 maternal deaths annually, UN agencies said in a statement last month.

Apart from the 2,000 women who die as a result of giving birth, “Several thousands more suffer severe or long lasting illness or disabilities. Zimbabwe needs midwives now more than ever,” said the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization.

The country’s economic collapse is blamed for the migration of midwifery skills to neighbouring countries and further afield, which is thought to have exacerbated the figures for 2007, the last recorded statistics, when there were 1,068 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births, and a neonatal rate of 24 deaths in every 1,000 live births.

Between 2005 and 2006, only 68 percent of pregnant women were delivered by a skilled attendant, a situation Zimbabwe’s health ministry attributed to long distances between communities and health centres, poverty, and transport problems, particularly in rural areas.


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