The women who spoke to StandardHealth&Fitness said they were happy that the era of “buying babies” had come to an end.
“My husband was very angry at me when I fell pregnant by mistake asking me where I thought he would get the money for maternity as his employer is not paying well,” said Medeline Chamboko, an expecting mother.
“We struggled to raise the US$50 for booking because my husband’s employer has not paid him for many months now.”
Chamboko’s husband works at a farm in Marondera and earns US$40 per month although he sometimes goes without payment if the employer decides to breach his unilateral arrangement of paying in US$20 instalments.
“With the large amounts being charged by hospitals, it was as if we were buying the babies we are carrying in our wombs,” another expecting mother, Chiedza Matonsi said.
“After ‘buying’ the baby, you also pay a lot of money for the child to go to clinic and also when it falls sick.
“We would like to thank the government for remembering us women because these children will help in developing the country in future so they are the nation’s children and not ours alone.”
Officials at Marondera Provincial Hospital said initial maternity booking costs US$100 and US$50 for those referred from clinics. The hospital charges US$300 for caesarean section delivery and there are other extra costs for sundries and drugs.
Under five-year-olds referred to the hospital pay nothing for treatment while those not referred pay a US$2,50 fee which officials said is meant to encourage the referral system.
The officials also welcomed the launch of the US$430 million fund saying it would improve the hospital’s operations. The hospital caters mostly for people from the farms who sometimes fail to settle their bills.
“This is a good move because most people we receive here are from the farms and they do not book but just turn up when in labour and sometimes they will be in a very critical condition due to pregnancy complications,” Matron Doreen Ngara said.
“This fund will encourage people to book and be closely monitored,” she said.