Image: Burnet Head of Project Management, Mary-Ann Nicholas (left) and Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Her Excellency Ms Bronte Moules at the opening of the Border Church MWH
A Burnet Institute project to address the high rate of maternal mortality in Zimbabwe has achieved an important milestone with commissioning of a new maternity waiting home (MWH) for expectant mothers.
The MWH, in the community of Border Church near the town of Marondera, about 70km east of the capital, Harare, is the last of twelve constructed throughout the country over the past seven years.
The refurbishment of older MWHs and construction of new homes is part of an Australian NGO Cooperation Program project, implemented by Burnet and the Organization for Public Health Interventions and Development (OPHID).
Image: Community members at the opening of the Border Church MWH
Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Her Excellency Ms Bronte Moules formally opened the Border Church MWH at a ceremony attended by representatives from OPHID, the Ministry of Health, donors The Drakensburg Trust, and the local community.
Burnet Head, Project Management, Mary-Ann Nicholas said that the construction of this final MWH was driven entirely by the community who contributed materials and labour to the project.
“Evidence has shown that these facilities have the potential to reduce maternal and perinatal mortality in rural areas of Zimbabwe with low geographic access to hospitals,” Ms Nicholas said.
“More than two-thirds of all childhood deaths in Zimbabwe occur between the time a woman learns she is pregnant and her child’s second birthday, and many are due to preventable infections and delays in seeking care.”
There has been an increasing trend of home deliveries in Zimbabwe over the past two decades, in the context of a weakened health delivery system and economic hardships.
Less than 30 per cent of women and their babies receive immediate postnatal care, with the majority of mothers sent home immediately after delivery or delivering at home.
“The goal of this project is to increase demand and improve the quality of facility-based maternal health care in the district, and it’s a model we’ve been implementing in Zimbabwe for the past seven years with real success,” Ms Nicholas said.
“The challenge at the moment is due to the chronic economic crisis, women are finding it difficult to come to the facilities because it’s cheaper to deliver at home.
“So The Drakensburg Trust are investing another $25,000 a year for the next two years to support this particular waiting home to provide food, to provide equipment to make it more sustainable while the economy hopefully recovers.”
Find out more about Burnet’s projects in Zimbabwe, and life-saving research in maternal and child health.