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Diatribe: Zimbabwe Women Are Being Charged “Scream Fees” During Childbirth!


DeliveryScreamEarlier this year, my dental insurance was switched to a new carrier.  I didn’t think anything about it, as my premiums had not changed, until a recent visit to my dentist when I learned that he was no longer “in network”.

“Well, GET in network,” I said to the hygienist who broke the news to me.

I’ll continue to see my dentist, “in network” or not, because I’ve been a patient of his for years, I trust his care, his staff is fantastic and the location of his office is quite convenient.  It turned out that, while my co-pay was slightly higher, the difference in the cost of my recent visit and similar visits in the past was minimal.

But healthcare dollars can add up quickly.  While our nation is debating the pros and cons of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, the women of Zimbabwe are risking their lives rather than pay for care.

A new report released by Transparency International indicates that a hospital in Zimbabwe is charging women five dollars for every time they scream during labor.  These charges are in addition to a fifty-dollar delivery fee that is typically charged by hospitals throughout the country.

“The $5 hospital screaming fee, purportedly a charge for ‘raising false alarm’ but clearly aimed at separating mothers from their money, is no joke.  Gross domestic product per capita is only $500 in Zimbabwe; average annual income per person is about $150.  Zimbabwean hospitals also charge a $50 delivery fee.  This means that, in a country where underemployment is 95 percent and poverty is rife, a mother who screams a few times during delivery might owe half her annual income after giving birth.” – Max Fisher, Washington Post

Sadly, Zimbabwe women who cannot afford to pay their hospital bills are often detained at the hospital until their families can raise the money that is owed.  And, incredibly, while they are being held in the hospitals, their debts collect interest!

It’s no wonder then that, because of the costs associated with giving birth in a hospital, many women there those to deliver their babies at home.  Sadly, it is estimated that as many as eight Zimbabwean women die each day in childbirth.  Unbelievable!

I think we should try to remember that, while we argue about the cost of our healthcare, we’re lucky to have any at all and things could be seriously worse.

Can you imagine being charged for screaming?!


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Copyright © 2013

From → Diatribes

  1. I’m sure now that it’s been in the Washington Post that the GOP will add it into the next anti-women bill they consider.


  2. Interesting accounting mechanism. I would encourage your readers to read one of the toughest books I have ever read – “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It is about maltreatment of women around the world. I will spare you details, but young African girls screaming in labor would be not unusual as they are too young to be giving birth. This is one reason I am proud of young Malala making her speech yesterday and am hopeful Hillary will run and win, as the best example to the world we could have is a female president. Sorry to go soap box on you. BTG


  3. After giving birth to my daughter I was told I screamed once during the pushing phase (when I thought it was more like a big grunt). I would hate to think I would have to give up a bunch of my yearly income for the sound I made during delivery. Shame on the people who put this law into effect!


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