By AFP

Mozambique rights groups have accused public hospitals of extortion and forcing pregnant women to pay to give birth, services that are supposed to be free.

A group of 40 civil society organisations grouped under the Women’s Observatory this week said they had received 16 reports of abuse and extortion from three hospitals in and around the capital Maputo since the start of 2021.

Those who could not afford the fees faced neglect and mistreatment, the groups claimed.

In a statement released on Monday by the Observatory, victims said they had been asked to pay the equivalent of up to $50 in exchange for care — a sum unaffordable to many in the impoverished southern African nation.

Those unable to pay bribes say they were violently mistreated before, during and after childbirth.

Some lost their babies as a result.

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One woman left unattended said her newborn fell to the ground and died. 

Nurses then ordered her to clean up the room and only treated her for heavy bleeding two days later.

The civil society groups have submitted their findings to the health ministry.

“We demand that the authorities investigate unreservedly in order to raise criminal and disciplinary proceedings,” group member Clelia Pondja told AFP on Wednesday.

“We are aware that many women in other parts of the country go through it, even if they do not report it,” she added.

The health ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One of the hospitals contacted refused to comment on the allegations.

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