Zim Authorities Dismiss Infant Birth Defects Report

By Professor Matodzi

HARARE, November 16, 2015 – Zimbabwean authorities on Monday moved to dismiss some unsettling reports of the delivery of an infant with serious birth defects at a government run hospital.

Zimbabwe’s social media has in recent days been abuzz with reports of the birth of an extraordinary child whose condition was described as anencephaly, a rare occurrence in the medical field.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anencephaly is a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull and is a type of neural tube defect.

CDC says the birth defects happen during the first month of pregnancy, usually before a woman knows that she is pregnant.

On Monday, authorities at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, one of the country’s biggest state-run hospitals strenuously denied that medical personnel at the institution had attended to the birth of the deformed baby.

Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals dismisses the above allegation with the contempt it deserves. This obviously is from someone who is being very mischievous,” reads part of a press statement issued late Monday by the hospital’s public relations department.

The authorities said investigations conducted at the hospital covering a period of two weeks had shown that there is no record of a delivery of an infant with congenital birth defects.

The hospital authorities also refuted reports of the identity of the mother of the infant and the doctor who assisted to deliver the baby at the hospital.

There is no doctor by the name Chenyeke working at the hospital whose credentials as a doctor we are also questioning,” the authorities said.

Zimbabwean media has in recent years carried several reports of infants born with birth defects in rural and urban centres.

In July 2014, Zimbabwean surgeons led by Dr Mbuwayesango successfully separated conjoined twin babies, in what was described as a first in the troubled southern African country’s run-down health delivery service and an achievement that was hailed by long time ruler, President Robert Mugabe.

The operation was a rare success for a success starved country whose healthcare system and infrastructure has collapsed under the watch of Mugabe.

Zimbabwe’s health delivery system, once glorified as one of the best in sub-Saharan Africa, has virtually collapsed due to years of under-funding and mismanagement.

Dozens of medical personnel including doctors and nurses have fled the country’s agonising economic crisis to seek better paying jobs in UK, Australia and in neighbouring countries among others.

However, Mugabe denies mismanaging the country’s economy and blames opposition political parties including the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T party of colluding with western governments in advocating for the imposition of targeted travel sanctions on himself and some of his lieutenants, a charge which they deny.