Midwives down tools over health fund abuse

 Dr David Parirenyatwa

Dr David Parirenyatwa

Paidamoyo Chipunza Health Reporter
Midwives at Harare Central Hospital are on strike following revelations this week by The Herald that Health Ministry directors are being paid hefty allowances out of a fund meant to benefit those who directly prevent maternal mortality. The Health Transition Fund was established in 2011 to – among other things – pay incentives to midwives but some senior Government officials have been dipping into it.
Student nurses are performing midwifery duties at Harare Hospital following the strike.

The midwives say their monthly incentives of just US$59 have not been paid since June last year, yet Health and Child Care officials and provincial medical directors were pocketing thousands of US dollars from the US$430 million HTF.

They are also worried about an acute shortage of blood and blood products for emergencies. The HTF was also set up to ensure a ready supply of blood and blood products.

Some directors were getting up to US$1 300 monthly from the fund while midwives – especially in rural areas – get nothing.
Official comment could not be obtained from Harare Central Hospital authorities by the time of going to print last night.

Hospital authorities are said to have instructed clinics not to send any cases to the referral institution and instead direct traffic to Parirenyatwa and Chitungwiza hospitals.

Harare Central Hospital caters largely for low-income earners.
The striking midwives wrote to Health Secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji saying women who lost blood during delivery were dying after failing to buy units for transfusion, which costs about US$200 per pint.

They said they were psychologically tormented by the situation, especially knowing that there was a special fund to save lives and address such issues.

“Many mothers are dying due to post-partum haemorrhage, which can be avoided if blood is made available,” they said in their letter to Dr Gwinji.

“Secondly, we are deeply concerned with the gap between directors receiving US$1 300 monthly and midwives receiving a mere US$59, which is paid half-yearly.”

Zimbabwe Nurses Association chairperson for Harare Mr Enock Dodzo said they had received communication from their members about the strike.

“Our members are traumatised, they cannot continue watching mothers die on a daily basis,” he said.
ZiNA national president Mrs Regina Smith expressed concern over the retention allowance paid to directors from the HTF at the expense of nurses and service delivery.

“Very few nurses from clinics are benefiting, yet they are the ones handling deliveries,” she said. “They handle deliveries of up to 40 a month at one institution. Health service is teamwork. Deliveries are not done by one person, everyone has a role in the process.”

Health Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said he would meet partners who contribute to the HTF this week to deliberate on how best the funding mechanism should be implemented.

Dr Parirenyatwa said: “I was not yet Health Minister, but what is important is I am there now. We are looking at it to see if it is equitable. Is it fair? Does it cause disgruntlement?”

He said he would ensure that no more than 15 percent of the fund went to allowances.
The HTF is in its third year and its implementation is expected to run until 2016.

The number of women who die during pregnancy or due to related complications has gone down from about 10 women a day to an average of five.

Zimbabwe is signatory to the Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa whose slogan is “No woman should die while giving life”.

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  • thetruthwillcome

    Symptoms of broken down governance. More to come, mark my words. You can lie to people on certain things but not the economy. Finance minister pindirai tione. Health Minister pindirai tione. what are your answers to these genuine complaints? Whats the way forward? How do you foresee more protests, strikes coming up?
    Oh my God, Mwari wangu ini?

    • wezanu

      Parirenyatwa is ***less. All lip service and flaunting his power.

      These are the fruits of “his efforts”

      People are suffering

      Leaders are stealing

      All the ministers do is talk, talk, talk and look at the rot unphased, defending it….humming away because its business as usual.

      Tiudzei wo?

      Nyika yedu yeZimbabwe munoida here?

  • Mimi

    The midwives have a case in point. This situation if not corrected will spill the beans on the hypocrisy that our government continues to give a deaf ear to. Time that this rot should be exposed.

    • Ariston

      Everything is rotten in Zimbabwe. It all starts with the allegedly government if is there. If people want to be honest, what is functioning in Zimbabwe except thievery everywhere. One wakes up in the morning moots the idea/s of stealing whatever he lays the hands on or the brain. Hence how can the economy develop? It is total rubbish.

    • Domaz

      Case in point yes. Why is the minister not investigating the rot and bringing all those on the wrong side to book? Its like saying vakaba vasina kubatwa its OK..vakabatwa we shield them..??? We want to know who these officials are and whats going to be done to them….not that we are going to change the system. These government people are taking us as stupid people who never complain.

  • Murozvi

    15% of $430 million is still over $70 million in allowances. Are those allowances REALLY necessary?

  • Observer

    we give blood for free and you charge us 200 bucks for it. really thats rubbish.

    • Chaminuka

      Observer. Its unfortunate but healthcare is not cheap. Money is charged to make the blood safer, packaging and storage amongst other things. There are many infectious diseases that can be transmitted through blood transfusion that have to be screened for in the blood. The cost of doing this is not cheap. These diseases include HIV, Hepatitis, Cytomegalovirus and syphillis amongst others.Before extensive screening of donated many people contracted diseases most notable amongst others include Arther Ashe the first black man to play for the US Davis Cup, win Wimbledon and become number One in the 1970s he contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during heart surgery.

  • Nyasha

    It is so disheartening that people are so greedy and selfish to the extent of stealing money that is meant to be saving lives!!! Well done nurses for crying out loud as this was going to end up under the carpet while people are dying. Please to the Minister of Health and the powers that be, help us deal with this bunch of people who have no morals and are very corrupt!!

  • amai Munoshamisa

    well well well…saka has our country come to this. So the midwives down tools and who suffers. So the student nurses now are attending to the women in hospital. Saka if they get ma complications who will attend to these women in hospital right now. Nurse na administrator wake vese are greedy at the expense of innocent women. Nobody really cares about mai nemwana varimuchipatara. its all a fight to enrich ones pocket. very sad.