Shortage of midwives hits crisis levels in Zimbabwe

on 15 March 2021

A shortage of midwives in Zimbabwe has become a crisis after stories of birth complications and maternal deaths have been shared on social media.

Non-health workers delivering babies in the absence of a midwives, poorly equipped hospitals and poor economic environment has reportedly seen pregnant women giving birth in the presence of older women known as Mbuya Nyamukuta.

Zimbabwe Confederation of Midwives President Emmanuel Mahlangu released a statement on the shortage of midwives in the country: “Our current situation is regrettable. The women of our nation deserve better. The future generations in today’s newborns can be better protected. The overall prevailing economic environment, the COVID-19 pandemic and the pre-existing shortage of midwives coupled with low recognition have collectively left a demotivated and despairing midwifery workforce.

“The ongoing skills drain to local non-midwifery employment and international nursing jobs are a dark cloud on the maternity services. Burnout appears to be the order of the day in many maternity service centres in the country and more so in the capital city.

“All things being equal, such embarrassing incidents of women delivering outside health facilities should only exist in history textbooks. We need, as a nation, to closely evaluate religious practices that put women at risk by encouraging delivery by non-trained personnel, late booking for maternity services and many child deaths.

“We need to sanitise our health delivery services from repeated disruptions arising from human resource concerns. We need an enabling environment of adequate resources such as ambulances, equipment and consumables.

“Regulations for midwifery should be updated to international standards and the profession has to be acknowledged as such. Families need to prepare well for pregnancy and make ready emergency plans for delivery.”

Source and photo credit: Pindula