Exploring the role of maternal waiting homes in maternal health in rural areas: a case of Mutambara ward, Chimanimani district

Author: Myotcha, Prosper

Maternal mortality is a global challenge. Zimbabwe is among top 40 countries in the world with high maternal mortality, 960 deaths per 100 000 live births (ZDHS 2010/11). Most of the obstetric complication can be treated if treatment is accessed in time. Delays in accessing obstetric care and underutilization of maternal health services were identified as reasons behind avoidable were identified as reasons behind avoidable maternal death. As response to this situation, Zimbabwean government in partnership with UNFPA introduced the maternal waiting home revisitation programme as a strategy to increase institutional deliveries. MWH strategy was adopted as a way of addressing the second delays in accessing emergence obstetric care among rural women. Maternity waiting homes attempt to improve access of women living in remote areas to maternal health services. It is expected that MWHs will increase institutional deliveries and consequently, decrease maternal mortality caused by the delay in reaching obstetric care. This study was conducted at Mutambara Mission Hospital. It aimed to identify the role of maternal waiting homes in maternal health and also factors influencing the utilization of MWHs. This research was purely qualitative and used semi-structured interviews. Results of the study shows improved utilization of maternal can be credited to improved supply and demand factors which came with the program. These factors include the refurbishing of MWH, free food for waiting mothers, training nurses in midwifery and scraping of maternity fees. MWH play a pivotal role in maternal health in rural Zimbabwe by cutting the long distance and transport cost that affects rural pregnant women in accessing obstetric care. At Mutambara MWH has resulted in increased institutional deliveries and reduction in home based deliveries.