Seven babies were stillborn at Harare Hospital on Monday night after urgent treatment was delayed because of a shortage of staff.
Two doctors with direct knowledge of the situation at Harare Hospital confirmed to the BBC that on Monday night eight Caesarean section operations were performed. Seven of the babies were stillborn.
One doctor, speaking to BBC on condition of anonymity because he did not have official permission to talk to the media, said:
There was a very, very late intervention. Two of the mothers had ruptured uteruses and needed early operations. The other operations were done because of obstructed labour but were not done on time so the babies died, stuck in their mothers’ pelvises.
Another doctor told BBC that the situation at Harare’s two main public hospitals was dire, with only a handful of nurses and doctors at work because of a strike. The doctor said:
These are not isolated incidents. This is repeated every day and all we can do is watch them die. This is torture for the families, and for the junior doctors.
The doctors revealed that there is a serious shortage of PPE equipment as well as drugs to treat eclampsia, and blood supplies needed to treat haemorrhages during births.
They further revealed that Parirenyatwa Hospital and Harare Hospital are operating with skeletal nursing staff – mostly senior matrons who cannot go on strike. But they’re not able to cope.
Zimbabwe’s health delivery system has been crippled by corruption as multi-million dollar contracts were awarded to buy medical equipment at inflated prices.
The country does not have a health minister and a substantive permanent secretary as well as chief executive officers at its major hospitals.