An investigation into the uptake of free maternal health services in Rural Zimbabwe: a case of Daluka Ward in Lupane District

Author: Ndhlovu, Khulani

The free maternal health program emanated after the realization that no woman must die while giving birth and no child must die while trying to live. It was an initiative also embarked upon by the government of Zimbabwe to reduce the burden of the poor and vulnerable women in the society as well as improve upon the living conditions of the citizens. As a government policy the essence of the program was to ensure easy access and utilization of antenatal care, delivery and post natal care services by women in rural areas at no cost. The objectives of this study were to assess the extent to which women are embracing free maternal health, to assess the awareness level of women on free maternal health, to identify challenges that hinder women’s access to free maternal health services and to identify what can be done to improve the uptake of free maternal health services. In all, 23 respondents disaggregated as 18 maternal health clients and 5 service providers were purposively sampled for the study in Daluka ward. It further examined the awareness level of community about free maternal healthcare, challenges that hinder women from accessing this free service and ways of improving this service. Findings of the study show that community is not aware of free maternal healthcare; the community is not fully aware of those areas covered by the free maternal healthcare program and that Daluka ward has more home deliveries. While there is increased attendance for ANC and deliveries, communities highlighted that this is more out of fear associated with home deliveries. Child welfare should make available resources and that the service providers should clear perceptions by disseminating maternal health information to women in the community through awareness campaigns and village health worker education.