A Zimbabwe Hospital Charges Women $5 for Each Scream During Labor—Why?

"False alarms."

The Atlantic business channel always enjoys a good price mystery. But this factoid probably falls under the category of Really Awful Price Mystery. It's so awful that I sincerely hope it's just not true: At least one Zimbabwe hospital reportedly charges $5 for each time a woman screams while giving birth.

Via Max Fisher, that means each scream accounts for 3.3 percent of average income per capita:

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.

What is allegedly an effort to reduce "false alarms" is clearly a ploy for the hospital to run up charges on what might be the least price-sensitive consumer category on earth: a woman in labor. In the United Nations' ranking of countries by gender equality, Zimbabwe finishes 172nd out of 186.

Unfortunately, Zimbabwe's corruption runs far beyond the emergency room. Sixty-two percent of respondents told Transparency International that they had paid a bribe for one of eight common services. By comparison, the figure was 7 percent for the U.S. and 17 percent for Sudan. 

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Business

Just In