Talk about staying mum when you are in the labor room, giving birth to your baby. Impossible; and yet desperately followed by expecting mothers in this local town in Zimbabwe who need to shell out at least $5 dollars for every scream that they utter while giving birth.
According to a recent news report made by an anti- corruption organization called Transparency International, a local hospital in Zimbabwe is actually charging women in labor for crying out aloud while giving birth. The hospital charges a patient $5 for every scream. Now, if the delivery was easy and took only an hour or so, we can expect to shell out some money. But what if it was a complicated case stretching for several hours? You do the math!
The hospital also charges the regular $50 delivery fees as charged by other hospitals in the country. This, coupled with the so called ‘scream fees’ can easily lead a patient pay up nearly half of her annual income at just this instance alone. And in a country like Zimbabwe (one of the poorest countries in Africa) where the average annual income does not exceed $150, this can really sting a family’s economic status.
Forget about the figures! Only a woman giving birth would be able to experience the pain that comes with it. And to stay silent during the entire delivery is impossible. Patients giving birth at the hospital have alleged that the hospital was looting them while the authorities maintained that it was their way of preventing false alarms (really? Since when did an expecting mother cry out loud in pain for experiencing just a small kick?)
It has also been learnt that the hospital actually detains the patients who are not able to pay the fees, and charges interest for the total cost until the families pay the money. All this has forced several expecting mothers in the town to give birth at home, irrespective of how complicated the delivery may be. And according to the figures mentioned in a report published by the United Nations, at least 8 mothers die in the country each day, trying to give birth to their babies at home.
Reports also revealed that when the branch of Transparency International located in Zimbabwe tried to contact the health ministry by sending a formal letter regarding the issue, the ministry chose to remain mum over the matter. When relentlessly pursued, they admitted to receiving the letter but claimed that they had lost it.
Things finally started to fall into place with the country’s deputy Prime Minister promising to look into the issue when a member of the organization met him in person. Ever since then, there have been no more complaints about the ‘scream fees’, with patients having to pay only the $50 standard fee for the delivery. Let’s hope it stays this way!