A maternal ward at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo is overwhelmed by the number of women giving birth following the scrapping of maternal fees at the institution.

Mpilo CEO, Mr Leonard Mabandi raised concern over the influx of women giving birth at the hospital as there is a critical shortage of beds at the maternity ward and women are now sleeping on the floor while others are squatting in corridors.

“We have an overwhelming number of mothers who are coming to deliver at the maternity ward. We are running out of space and mothers are having to sleep on the floor. It is now difficult for the cleaners to clean, so infection control becomes a challenge. Part of the reason why we are having this is the removal of user fees for pregnant mothers and city council clinics are charging maternal fees,” he said.

Mr Mabandi also said there is a need for city council clinics and rural health facilities to also comply with the government directive of scrapping maternal fees so that expecting mothers can be assisted instead of the current situation where they all come to Mpilo for services that can be provided in clinics.

The Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo said the council health department should help the government in easing the situation at the hospital as newly born babies are vulnerable to infections under such conditions.

The hospital used to deliver an average of 25 babies per day, but the figure has doubled to over 50 babies per day and the institution now has a waiting list of 1000 women.