Table of Contents
Journal of Anthropology
Volume 2014, Article ID 750240, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/750240
Review Article

Traditional Birth Attendants and Policy Ambivalence in Zimbabwe

Sociology Department, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP 167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe

Received 20 September 2013; Revised 23 December 2013; Accepted 24 December 2013; Published 7 May 2014

Academic Editor: Kaushik Bose

Copyright © 2014 Naume Zorodzai Choguya. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This paper analyses the importance of the services rendered by traditional birth attendants (TBAs) to pregnant women in Zimbabwe. It argues that, though an integral part of the health system, the ambivalence in terms of policy on the part of the government leaves them in a predicament. Sociocultural values as well as tradition imbue TBAs power and authority to manage pregnancies and assist in child deliveries. On the other hand, government policies expounded through the Ministry of Health (MoH) programs and policies appear to be relegating them to the fringes of healthcare provision. However, in a country with a failing health system characterized by mass exodus of qualified personnel, availability of drugs, and understaffing of healthcare centres, among others, TBAs remain the lifeline for many women in the country. Instead of sidelining them in healthcare interventions, I argue that their integration, however, problematic and often noted to be with disastrous consequences for traditional medicine, presents the sole viable solution towards achieving MDGs 4 and 5. The government and MoH should capitalize on the availability of and standing working relations of TBAs with the grassroots for better/positive maternal health outcomes. In a country reeling with high maternal deaths, TBAs’ status and position in society make them the best intervention tools.