High maternal fees force women to back door


Eunice Chipudhla Chinyani.

Esther Zinyoro popularly known as Mbuya Gwena continues to play midwife in her two-bed flat in Mbare, as high maternal fees in a sea of poverty pushes women to backdoor deliveries.

The self-trained mid wife, became an overnight sensation in 2019 after stepping in to help deliver more than 100 babies in two days in her home as the health delivery system came to at stand still owing to a crippling strike by nurses.

The high cost of maternity services in private hospitals, strikes and poor services at government hospitals, have made, Mbuya Gwena who charges minimal charges an attractive option for what appears to be safe deliveries.

“I take in women who would have gone to register their pregnancies, mostly those who are not first-time pregnancies to avoid having those who might have complications,” Mbuya Gwena said.

Mbuya Gwena charges around US$20 and is open to negotiations compared to private hospitals which charges US$20 compared to the US$40 that are being charged by local municipal clinics.

Private clinics charge between US$250 and US$400 for a normal delivery.

Poverty has sent many women into the home of Mbuya Gwena, who has continued to offer service despite a directive from the ministry of health that she stops acting doctor and direct women to hospitals and local clinics.

Ministry of health officials who refused to be named, said government was not aware that Mbuya Gwena, continues to offer medical services at her home.

“The ministry is not aware that she is continuing with her work, we recommended that she referred all pregnant women for delivery at health facilities, we also understand that council offered to get her through some training which she has not taken up,’’ said the official.

Those around Mbuya Gwena want her to continue with her work, saying she had succeeded

where government had failed.

Wellington Matenhese whose wife was helped by Mbuya Gwena said his wife could have died had it not been of the self-styled midwife.

“I have excessive admiration for her work because she helped out my wife deliver our daughter, if it wasn’t for Mbuya Gwena, our daughter might not be alive,” he said.

Mbuya Gwena said she believes assisting women is a calling from God and that is her mission in life and will therefore not stop her noble work.

She operates from her two roomed flat in Mbare, Harare.

Without any bedding and equipment, she uses her living room, plastic mats and her own bed

to shelter the newly born babies.