RECOUNTING a tragic incident that occurred a few years ago, a delivery nurse at Mberengwa District Hospital in the Midlands province, who spoke on condition of anonymity for professional reasons said: “Just the other day, we got a call that a 19-year-old woman, who had given birth to a stillborn baby at our hospital and experienced severe complications had passed on while being transferred to Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo”.
She adds: “Sadly, there have been instances of women from rural communities, like here in Mberengwa, experiencing complications during childbirth and facing challenges due to limited medical resources. Some even passed on while on their way to the hospital to give birth”.
“The majority of maternal deaths are caused by preventable conditions that could have been addressed through proper medical care during pregnancy and childbirth. Severe bleeding and infections after childbirth pose significant risks to women, particularly in rural areas with limited access to healthcare.”
Studies have shown that in many parts of rural and remote communities in the country, access to health care services is a challenge as health facilities are often difficult to get to largely because of distance.
Rural women are generally more disadvantaged in terms of access to health care and in particular maternity care.
Mothers often travel long distances to access maternity care, with many temporarily relocating to the city before their due date. Mothers who experienced complications during birth may be required to remain in the city for a number of weeks, depending on their circumstances.
This places an enormous burden on rural families to ensure access to accommodation for an undetermined amount of time and for partners to have adequate time off work.
For pregnant women in these areas, long distances and transportation challenges hinder them from receiving the care they need at the time they need it most, that is at later stages of pregnancy, during childbirth and immediately after giving birth.
According to the latest estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) every two minutes, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth.
This reveals an alarming setback for women’s health over recent years as maternal deaths either increased or stagnated in nearly all regions of the world.
Recognising the critical need for improved healthcare access in rural areas, and as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, Mimosa Mining Company in Zvishavane is undertaking a comprehensive refurbishment project to transform Mberengwa District Hospital into a fully functional district hospital, ensuring that people in the district have access to the same quality healthcare services available to their urban counterparts.
The comprehensive refurbishment project encompasses the construction of a new mortuary, maternity ward, male ward, laundry centre, theatre, perimeter fence, and a guardroom. Additionally, a new road will connect the hospital to the main road, enhancing accessibility for patients.
The maternity ward, mortuary, male ward, and laundry facility have been completed and await official commissioning. Progress on the remaining projects is ongoing, with each at varying stages of advancement.
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Speaking to journalists on a tour of the hospital recently, Mimosa CSR officer Robson Kabike said their goal was to transform Mberengwa District Hospital into a fully functional district hospital, meeting the standard for such facilities.
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“We started this project in 2021 and this is our third year and we aim to finish in the next two years. In 2021, we successfully completed the 26-bed maternity ward. We have also constructed the mortuary which has a capacity of 12 bodies from the previous which had a capacity of two bodies.
“The laundry facility is also finished and is already equipped with the necessary equipment. Additionally, the construction of the theater and the 26-bed male ward are at an advanced stage,” said Kabike.
Mberengwa district health service administrator Takudzwa Magocha commended Mimosa for the gesture and said the move was in line with governments efforts to achieve quality health care through infrastructure development.
He said the refurbished facility will go a long way in assisting mothers and children to receive the best level of care.
“The new 26-bed maternity ward is equipped with all the necessary facilities, including waiting rooms, a Caesarean section theater, normal labour ward, and a dedicated nurses’ workstation.
“Before the construction of the maternity ward, expecting mothers would travel to Bulawayo or Gweru for specialized maternal healthcare services. The construction of the maternity ward, which started in 2017, however, faced temporary setbacks due to resource limitations before the Government and Mimosa joined forces to overcome these challenges.
“Currently, Mberengwa District Hospital lacks a laundry machine, posing a significant challenge as we cater to 37 healthcare facilities in the Munene, Musume, and Neta areas.
“The lack of this essential facility has made the cleaning of blankets and other linens a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. We are immensely grateful for Mimosa’s support in establishing a laundry center at the hospital,” said Magocha.
The wards have been painted and decorated in a way which has created a serene and calming environment for mothers and their babies.
Magocha encouraged other companies operating in the district to emulate Mimosa Mining saying more collaboration was needed to reduce child mortality rate in the country.
Mimosa Mining Company general manager, Stephen Ndiyamba, said the refurbishment of the Mberengwa District Hospital aligns with the company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, which encompass health, education, water and sanitation, infrastructure, and sustainable development projects.
“Over the years we have invested in health, education, water and sanitation, infrastructure and sustainable projects. Guided by a desire to create lasting legacies, recently we have been gravitating towards sustainable projects with an impact in the community.
“Envisioning a healthy nation, we have intervened to construct, equip and refurbish health institutions within the community, in the region and at national level. Our key interventions have been at Mberengwa District Hospital, Mondongo Clinic and at Zvishavane District Hospital where we constructed and equipped a private ward.
“Regionally we refurbished and equipped the theatre and laundry facility at Masvingo Provincial Hospital. On a national level we have made interventions at Mpilo and Harare Hospitals, St Giles Rehabilitation Centre and Chitungwiza Hospital where we partnered in the setting up of the Kidney Transplantation Centre,” said Ndiyamba.
He said as an organization that firmly believes in education being the underpinning factor of any real economic growth, they also have actively participated in the construction and refurbishment of several primary and secondary schools countrywide using mostly local indigenous suppliers.
“Over and above programmes targeted at primary and secondary education, Mimosa participates in institutional development through supporting various tertiary establishments. Support rendered has been in the form of administrative equipment, learning aids, comprehensive scholarship programmed as well as infrastructural development.
“At Mtshingwe Primary School we constructed and equipped two classroom blocks and the administration block while at Zvishavane Vocational Training center we constructed a double story girls’ hostel.
“Other institutions that have been touched by our interventions include Shabani Primary School, Makwasha Primary School, Dadaya Primary School, Wedza Primary School, Riverton Academy, Shonhayi Primary School and Mukwidzi Primary School
“For tertiary institutions we have supported University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University, Great Zimbabwe University and the School of Mines with learning equipment,” said Ndiyamba.