Nurses at Chiredzi General Hospital are reportedly stealing birth control pills from the health institution and selling them for as much as $4 a satchet on the black market.
Chiredzi General Hospital superintendent, David Tarumbwa who is doubling as the acting district medical officer (DMO), admitted receiving the tip-off through an anonymous letter sent to him.
He said he had since forwarded the names of the suspects to the police.
“Yes, I have received the letter and I had to seek the help of the police, but I am still waiting for feedback. I know such things are happening behind the scenes because I have received several such complaints,” he said.
“You know maternal health is offered for free, but there are some elements that are ripping off innocent women just for personal gains and tarnishing the name of the hospital in the
“I am sure they are manipulating the system or using non-existent patients’ names to falsify the number of those who received the contraceptive. I would like to urge women to report these nurses to the police because what they are doing is illegal,” said Tarumbwa.
Ministry of Health and Child Care spokesperson Donald Mujiri said he could not respond as he was driving, promising that he would do so later.
One woman who spoke on condition of anonymity said the nurses would frustrate them when they go for their free monthly supply of the contraceptives, forcing them to buy from the black market.
“They tell you to buy a pregnancy test kit for them to be sure that you are not pregnant,” said the patient.
“This happens every month, forcing us to go to buy the pills on the streets or in the backyard shops, because we cannot afford the pregnancy test kits. In any case it is cheaper and
hustle free to buy the pills from the black market than buying the pregnancy test kit.”
According to the factsheet compiled by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, in partnership with the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences Clinical Trials Research Centre
and Guttmacher Institute, most women who have an abortion do so because they become pregnant when they do not intend to.
In 2016, about 40% of the pregnancies in Zimbabwe were unintended and one quarter of those intended pregnancies ended in abortion.
Commercial sex workers in Chiredzi recently told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Women Affairs Portfolio Committee that although they don’t know the number of pregnancies terminated and the number of those who died in the process; they use unorthodox abortion methods like shoving fresh chillies up their private parts or using hooked wires.
They also accused nurses at Chiredzi General Hospital and doctors from private institutions of carrying out most of the unlawful abortions.
They said up to 90% of illegal abortions in Chiredzi are conducted by nurses. Police officers are also involved in human rights abuses by forcing juvenile sex workers to have sex with them for free.
The committee came to Chiredzi after a resident Marko Shoko petitioned Parliament over rampant child prostitution around Chigarapasi Beer Hall.
About 40 commercial sex workers who attended the meeting said that their members have to terminate unwanted pregnancies from time to time and they are assisted by nurses from institutions around Chiredzi who charge $400.
They told the MPs that the biggest challenge of these illegal backyard terminations is that the sex workers are not given full care by nurses who are employed elsewhere.
They pleaded with MPs for the legalisation of abortion.
The sex workers also complained that their reports of rape and assault against their clients to the Police are not seriously looked into and most of them are thrown away.
Rosemary Chiguvi, a sex worker and National AIDS Council peer educator argued at the meeting that sex workers don’t enter the profession out of luxury. She said that there are many push factors including poverty, harsh economic environment and child-headed homes.
“There are many causes of prostitution that push even minors into the profession. There are also circumstances beyond our control that result in unwanted pregnancies and hence illegal abortions. We are approached by nurses who charge us to terminate pregnancies. They are involved in over 90% of terminations here in Chiredzi. Some of our members have died from these illegal abortions because of lack of due care,” said Chiguvi.
Another sex worker Lahoreuliet Gadzanai said tens of juveniles are joining the oldest profession due to poverty. She pleaded with Government to assist them with income generating projects. She said the juveniles are abused by Police officers who force them into sex for free.
Zimbabwe is among countries that have the highest rate of modern contraceptive use in sub-Saharan Africa, likely due to its robust family planning programme.