A village headman in Sinda District has complained that pregnant women in the area are being overburdened with numerous items to purchase on their own, while government is failing to provide basic healthcare services.

In an interview, headman Kaondo Stephen Banda in Kapoche constituency said it hurt the communities to see that pregnant women were asked to buy everything needed for them during birth, such as linen, soap, gloves and cotton, among others, while government’s contribution in terms of providing basic healthcare services was lacking.

“We appreciate the government for other things, but one thing, which is disturbing the communities is the situation when pregnant women are made to buy everything, which is required at the hospital. Things, which in the past, were available at the hospital or clinic, but now, they are demanded from patients! Imagine, even gloves, Jik, soap, cotton, pins, linen plastic all these one has to buy! Now, you add with other normal responsibilities of the people, such as bathing tubs, clothes how are people going to be helped? I am made to believe that it’s too much for our people, what is government doing in relation to good health provision?” Banda asked.

He said government should bear in mind that most people came from poor families where money remained scarce.

He expressed worry that the trend of being subjected to high expenditure will soon force expectant mothers to give birth from home if they failed to buy hospital requirements.

“People are poor! For example, one glove it’s K10 in shops and they need about five pairs, which is K50; Jik it’s about K30. What about other items? We don’t know the price! Now, this is quite dangerous because since people only find nurses as help at the hospital or clinics, then they will opt to give birth at home as a way to cushion the expenditure, meaning the policy to have women give birth at the hospital will be compromised,” he complained.

Banda, who is also a home-based carer, observed that most families were forced to sell their family belongings, such as cattle for them to raise enough money to buy the hospital requirements.

He added that the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) will also be compromised if people started giving birth from home.

“We realize at the hospital they check a lot of issues, such as to check whether the mother is HIV+ and ensure that a child is protected from transmission during birth or pregnancy. But when people opt to deliver from home, how will one be know if they are HIV+? How are babies going to be prevented from transmission? How are those who will help protect themselves from transmission? All these are factors the government should look into,” Banda urged.

He, therefore, reminded government that the antenatal stage was the genesis of every human being, which should receive total consideration and care.

Banda further urged government to make more funds available to clinics and hospital for pregnancy-related requirements.

“We beg and request and not forcing that, let the government help us through the provision of the items, which once was available in health centres. If it doesn’t, then we may face many problems as communities, which will even affect the nation at large. Please protect women from giving birth from home, protect families from abject poverty attributed through selling of their own goods,” appealed Banda.