COVID-19 Nightmare for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women who test positive for COVID-19 are transferred to UBH as Gwanda Hospital is incapacitated to cater to them. Image by ABC News

BY AMANDA NCUBE | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | MAR 5, 2021

Expecting mothers who test positive to COVID-19 while outside the metropolitan city of Bulawayo now spend more time worrying about how they will get back home than celebrating their children’s births.

GWANDA (The Citizen Bulletin) — When Lindani Dube* was discharged at 9.a.m. from United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), she was stuck in the Bulawayo CBD with her seven-day-old baby for about seven hours.

From the Garanyemba area in Gwanda, Dube says her husband in South Africa and her mother were the only people who could assist her. She tried to get financial assistance from her relatives but was out of luck.

“My husband couldn’t send money immediately, but he eventually managed to get help from his friend who stays in Bulawayo. His friend is the one who drove us from Bulawayo to our rural home in Garanyemba, and he promised to pay him for his services.”

Dube* represents scores of expecting mothers for whom the COVID-19 pandemic has brought fresh challenges. Women who test positive for the virus and give birth through a caesarian section have to be transferred to UBH as the Gwanda Provincial Hospital is incapacitated to cater to them.

The women are transported to Bulawayo for free but once discharged; they have to find their own way back. With COVID-19 restrictions, accessing transport remains a challenge.

Similarly, Nomathemba Moyo* from the Guyu area in Gwanda found herself in the same predicament. After she tested positive for COVID-19 she also had to be transferred to UBH for a caesarian operation.

She says she incurred many costs as her relatives had to travel from Gwanda to Bulawayo and had to hire transport to get her home.

“I was never ready for the challenges which came after I tested positive for COVID-19.”
Nomathemba Moyo*, a pregnant woman who tested positive for COVID-19

“It affected me not only psychologically but financially as well. I have relatives in Bulawayo, but I couldn’t go to them after being discharged considering that I had tested positive for COVID-19.,” she says.

Moyo says there is a need for the hospital to accommodate all patients.

“This is a provincial hospital, and coming from the rural areas, this is the institution where we will be expecting to get medical assistance from. We can’t be expected to travel over 100 kilometres to a hospital in Bulawayo for a service that we can get locally,” she says.

According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey, the country’s maternal mortality rate remains high, at 651 deaths per 100,000 live births. This is despite a decline in the past five to 10 years.

Gwanda Provincial Hospital acting medical superintendent Dr Blessing Gwarimbo says they rely on one theatre to conduct operations.

Gwanda Provincial Hospital has only one theatre.

“We are relying on one theatre for our operations as the other one isn’t working. We have one anaesthetic machine, and it can’t be shared between patients who test positive for COVID-19 and those who are negative. If we had enough resources and the other theatre was functional, we could operate the positive patients there,” he says.

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Dr Gwarimbo says every patient now gets tested for COVID-19 before being admitted to the hospital. Patients who come out positive are placed under isolation. With limited space at the maternity ward, the hospital is attempting to reduce the number of positive patients in admission.

“Our maternity ward is always busy with patients coming in each day, but we have limited space. It’s more challenging now that we have to isolate some of the patients,” he says.

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Pregnant women, Gwanda, Gwanda Provincial Hospital, COVID-19

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