EXPECTING mothers hoping to deliver their babies at some Harare City Council clinics may soon have to pay more in maternity fees due to an impending reduction of support to the city by one of its key partners.
As local stakeholders in the humanitarian sector celebrated the International Humanitarian Day last week, Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda was worried about the likely results of reduced support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which has been giving the city between US$300 000 and US$500 000 per quarter.
“My worry is that the ICRC has indicated to us that they want to scale down the level of assistance they have been giving us so other countries in the region can also benefit,” Masunda said.
“On Friday, I will be meeting the ICRC head of delegation Pascal Cuttat to review where we are about the impending scaling down of the level of assistance.
“As you are aware, this comes at the back of the scaling down of the level of assistance which we were receiving from Unicef. The overall impact is going to be felt very keenly in terms of our capacity to provide services that people are used to.”
Masunda said the scaling down of the support will be in phases so as to minimise the impact on beneficiaries.
These include expecting women who are currently paying US$25 in maternity fees at such centres as Mbare Polyclinic’s Edith Opperman Maternity Hospital where between 500 and 600 babies are born every month and Mabvuku clinic where between 350 and 450 babies are born per month.
“What it means is that people will have to start paying their bills because there is a cost to all these things,” Masunda said. “But of course, we need to wean ourselves from the assistance we are getting from our partners otherwise we will develop a dependency syndrome.”
The ICRC last year also indicated that it was also scaling down on the quantity of food handouts to the country’s prisons.