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Midwives at Harare Central Hospital returned to work last Friday after striking for two consecutive days to protest alleged abuse of the Health Transition Fund by directors in the Ministry of Health and Child Care. They were also protesting against the non-payment of the US$59 retention allowance they are entitled to from the fund.

Zimbabwe Nurses Association chairperson for Harare Mr Enock Dongo said Acting Secretary for Health and Child Care, Dr Gibson Mhlanga, promised to look into the midwives’ grievances.

“They told us they are going back to work as they wait for Government’s response in writing,” said Mr Dongo.

The midwives were particularly angered by revelations that ministry senior officials were being paid up to US$1 300 a month through the fund.

In addition, midwives expressed concern about the unavailability of affordable blood and blood products for women at maternity centres.

A pint of blood costs US$200, which is far beyond the reach of many.

“We understand that some of our concerns cannot be addressed overnight, such as the issue of blood prices, but as of (Friday) some of our members had started receiving their allowances,” Mr Dongo said.

“We, however, wonder why it took our employers a strike to address concerns on the ground.”

Excessive loss of blood is one of the top five causes of death in pregnant women in Zimbabwe.

Although the number of women who die during childbirth is going down from a high of about 10 women a day to an average of five (2013 National Census figures), the numbers are still considered as high.

Zimbabwe is signatory to the campaign for accelerated reduction of maternal mortality in Africa, which stipulates that no woman should die while giving birth.

Source : The Herald