Seven babies were stillborn, out of eight Caesareans performed at Harare Central Hospital in Zimbabwe on Monday night after urgent treatment was delayed because of staffing issues, reports the BBC.
In a statement, Zimbabwe’s Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ZSOG) described the situation in hospitals as “grave,” and “beyond dire”.
Nurses are on strike nationwide because of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other concerns, and the maternity wards were overwhelmed. One doctor said Monday’s deaths were “the tip of the iceberg”.
The deaths at Harare Hospital first were first made public by Dr Peter Magombeyi, who tweeted, “We have been robbed of our future, including our unborn babies. Please stop the looting.” Two doctors confirmed to the BBC that on Monday night eight Caesarean section operations were performed. Seven of the babies were stillborn.
“There was very, very late intervention,” said one doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity.”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.”
The doctor described “dire” scenes at Harare’s two main state hospitals, with only a handful of nurses and doctors at work because of a strike. Many of the capital’s smaller clinics have also been affected, or closed, by industrial action which began in June.
The ZSOG statement read:
“Our women are suffering and we believe that all stakeholders, the government, medical practitioners, civil society and individuals must act to save the voiceless mothers and babies.
“Simply put ,unborn children and mothers are dying daily, or suffering from the repercussions of inadequate care.
“We believe the grievances of the Healthcare workers are valid and must be addressed as a matter of urgency,”