THE provision of quality health care in government hospitals should never discriminate between the haves and have-nots.
All who seek medical attention must be treated equally and should not be subjected to prohibitive demands that in the end defeat the government’s aim of ensuring quality health care for all.
This is the more reason why it has come with a sense of shock the disclosure that Government health institutions are asking expecting mothers to provide their own delivery supplies during labour.
The practice is not only unfair but discriminates against the vulnerable who cannot afford to provide the so-called requirements.
It also defeats the government’s hitherto nationwide campaign to encourage women to give birth in hospitals and other health centres.
We are glad though that the Medical Quality HealthCare in Zambia (MQHZ) has condemned the practice and advised the government to ensure that the trend was stopped.
The MQHZ Director-General, Dr Quince Mwabu said that expecting mothers had the right to be attended to regardless of the circumstance.
“If left unchecked, this habit will lead to the loss of many lives of both mothers and babies because some midwives with bad attitudes may not attend to the patients for not having the supplies.
“This is where quality healthcare services start from. Let pregnant women be attended to without being disturbed and being treated badly because of this. You ask expectant mothers to come with Jik and razor blades for what?” he said.
Indeed, what is quality health care if a hospital cannot provide the basic requirements needed in a maternity ward?
The practice of subjecting expecting mothers to have to worry about providing items – that they do not even use at home like Jik – must indeed be stopped forthwith.
This retrogressive practice puts an unnecessary strain on the expecting mothers in that they have to worry about buying items they would need in hospital.
As Dr Mwabu stated, delivery supplies were in the past provided by the health facilities and wondered what had happened for what he termed a seemingly normal trend.
Like Dr Mwabu, we call on the government to increase funding in health facilities so that what he described as a bad trend would be discouraged.
We do not agree with the explanation by the Ministry of Health that it does not force patients to buy the supplies.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Dr Abel Kabalo said, “delivery preparation supplies are always available for the purpose of delivery in our facilities. It is not a forcing matter, it is for those who can afford.”
While that might be true on paper, in reality, that is definitely not the case. The people on the ground definitely insist on patients providing the items.
Some expectant mothers interviewed in selected health facilities in Kitwe confirmed having been given lists of the supplies needed during and immediately after delivery.
Others complained that not all of them were capable of buying all the supplies needed.
Zambia has made great strides in reducing maternal mortality rates but all this is likely to be lost for the poor would shun hospitals and health centres, opting to give birth at home, a practice that the government discourages.
Let there be no artificial hindrances in quality health care, particularly maternal cases.

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