Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Charging Women $5 to Scream (Once) During Childbirth in Zimbabwe

July 12, 2013

Max Fisher highlighted a terribly disturbing nugget in a Washington Post article yesterday (A hospital in Zimbabwe charged women $5 for each scream during childbirth), in the context of Transparency International’s latest global corruption report release.  

Zimbabwe’s well-known widespread corruption aside, this is a country where giving birth can be nothing short of a death sentence.  Every single day in Zimbabwe, eight mothers die during childbirth, according to the UN.  As if the odds aren’t bad enough, the $5-a-scream is enough to dissuade any pregnant woman from giving birth in a public hospital.  Annual income for the average Zimbabwean is $150 – imagine screaming five times and losing almost 20 percent of your yearly income, and that doesn’t even include the $50 delivery charge.  

Egregious? Yes. Reality? Yes.

The global community must continue to commit to improving the lives of mothers, newborns and children around the world.  Nicholas Kristof’s Wednesday piece on the golden benefits of breast milk is a necessary (and uplifting) read. And there are many other examples of organizations working every day to make childbirth safer for women in poor countries. Want to take action? Visit Catapult and make a difference in the health and lives of women and girls. 

 
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