In June 2010, Amnesty International found that pregnant women and girls at Hopley settlement, in Harare, are at risk of ill-health and even death due to inadequate access to essential health services. Both their own lives and the lives of their newborn babies are put at risk because of the government’s failure to provide adequate levels of maternal and newborn care.
Though there have been some recent investments to rehabilitate the health delivery services in other communities in Harare after many years of neglect, the situation at Hopley has remained precarious. A temporary clinic set up by a humanitarian agency in 2005, and later handed over to the Harare City Council (HCC), is far from adequate. It is situated in an old farm house, with no running water and woefully inadequate sanitation facilities. Clinic staff and patients share a single pit toilet. The supply of medicines to the clinic is erratic. Critically, this clinic does not offer maternal and newborn care services.
Amnesty International has documented accounts of newborn deaths from women and girls who lost babies soon after giving birth which they attribute to the appalling living conditions at Hopley and the government’s failure to provide maternal and newborn healthcare at the settlement.
This failure forces women and girls at Hopley to deliver at home without a trained birth attendant. From interviews with community leaders and women at Hopley, Amnesty International identified 21 cases of newborn deaths that reportedly occurred during the first five months of 2010.