Pregnant Women Fall Victim to Extortion at Council Poly Clinics

Pauline Chateuka

Combined Harare Residents Association has called on the Harare City Council to act and end extortion by health personnel in council clinics on pregnant women seeking maternal health services.

“We are reliably informed and have received reports from Mabvuku, Highfields and Mufakose Poly Clinics of health personnel who are arm twisting women in labor to pay a personal extra maternal fee(chebasa) in forex ranging between USD25-40 in return for safe deliveries.
It is disturbing that pregnant women who are not able to pay the bribe are threatened with not receiving medical attention or referred to Mbuya Nehanda or Sally Mugabe Maternal hospitals.”
said CHRA.

Maternal health is a human right protected under section 76 (1) of the Zimbabwe Constitution which entails “Every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has the right to have access to basic health-care services, including reproductive health-care services”. Hence denying women maternal health services is a violation of their human rights.

Due to economic hardships some pregnant women cannot afford to make payments in forex and they are being neglected or not served. Meanwhile, those who would have paid foreign currency are being receipted in RTGS as health personnel uses their RTGS bank cards to make payments into the council accounts and they keep the US dollars.

Ward 35 Councilor Loveness Gomba confirmed these corrupt acts at Mufakose Polyclinic.

As the ward councilor so far l have received about ten reports from pregnant women saying they are being denied maternal services because they want to make a payment in RTGS. We condemn the inhuman treatment being experienced by pregnant women seeking maternal health services in council clinics and call for professionalism among the health personnel” said Gomba

CHRA demands immediate action and urgent interventions from the council to end this corruption that has crippled municipal maternal health service provision in Harare and is affecting ordinary citizens.

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