Zimbabwe, December 2013: Apostolic umbrella body launches three year strategic plan on maternal and child health, early marriages and access to education
By Richard Nyamanhindi
The Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe Africa (UDACIZA), an umbrella body representing the local apostolic churches, has agreed to work with government and other partners in ensuring that it changes members’ perception on maternal and child health, early marriages and access to education.
UDACIZA launched a three year strategic plan seeking to address issues affecting women and children in their sects.
The apostolic churches umbrella body agreed to engage its members most of whom refuse to seek health services based on spiritual beliefs.
UDACIZA Secretary-General Reverend Edson Tsvakai said they have since considered reviewing their church doctrine to allow women to deliver in proper health facilities.
“We are also engaging government to facilitate the training of midwives from our churches who will provide services which are sensitive to the needs of our communities,” said Reverend Tsvakai.
Some from the ultra-conservative Johanne Marange Apostolic Sect said they have already embraced the changing times and will protect the lives of their women and children by allowing them to go to hospitals.
UNICEF’s Gender and Human Rights Adviser, Anna Mutavati said coming up with a strategic plan with the sects’ input will make it easier for the country to achieve its target to reduce maternal mortality by three quarters by 2015.
According to the recently released census report, 38 percent of the population is apostolic.
The Millennium Development Goals progress report released recently noted that the apostolic sects in the country have been a major contributor to the high rate of maternal mortality and have hampered efforts to reduce maternal mortality by 2015.
Pregnant women are still not allowed to visit health institutions and are made to deliver their babies at home, often leading to maternal deaths due to complications. The sects also currently prohibit immunization of babies, contributing a great deal to child mortality. The level of education of the mother has a correlation with infant and child mortality.
Zimbabwe’s maternal mortality stands at 750 deaths per 100 000 live births.
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