GOVERNMENT is reconsidering the scrapping of maternity user fees because of unfulfilled financial promises from Treasury. Health and Child Welfare Deputy Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora said his ministry was promised US$10 million from the national budget for the programme. However, only US$6 million was approved.
Deputy Minister Mombeshora said Government was left with no option, but to work with what was available. The ministry has about US$11 million from the donor community. “The plan was to scrap maternal user fees but it seems it is not going to work. “Instead, we are now revising that decision so that we subsidise current costs of user fees rather than scrapping them completely,” he said.
Deputy Minister Mombeshora said Government planned to subsdise the user fees at all institutions in Zimbabwe. Pregnant women would have to pay the difference depending on where they deliver. He said the plan was not yet conclusive, but subsidies were the only sustainable solution to the user fee debacle.
However, in some health centres, maternal user fees have since been scrapped. Maternal user fees have been identified as one of the obstacles discouraging pregnant women from delivering at health institutions. At least US$25 is required to register for delivery at clinics. The fee is, however, out of reach for the majority who resort to home deliveries. According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey, the country’s maternal mortality ratio stands at 990 deaths per every 100 000 live births.
Most of these deaths are believed to be the result of complications during delivery. Scrapping of user fees was expected to boost Zimbabwe’s chances of attaining Millennium Development Goal Number Four of reducing child mortality by 75 percent. Goal Number Five seeks to improve maternal health by 75 percent by 2015.
Government has raised about $59 million against a target of US$62 million from the donor community under a programme running under the Health Transition Fund.
According to the health ministry, the HTF committee has so far committed US$11 million towards maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition, US$28 million towards medical products, vaccines and technologies, US$8 million for human resources for health and US$10 million for health policy, planning and finance.
The HTF is a multi-donor pooled fund launched in 2011 with a view to support Government achieve planned progress towards the highest level of health care and quality of life for Zimbabweans. The initiative, managed by the United Nations Children’s Fund, is expected to mobilise US$430 million over five years
Conclusion; A targeted initiative for Zimbabwe’s mothers..