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Patients share wards with dead bodies in Zimbabwe

18 Nov 2019 at 13:29hrs | Views
The medical personnel industrial action in Zimbabwe is blamed on the country's crumbling healthcare service, poor governance and corruption.

The lack of response of the international community to the emergency posed by the crisis, is knee shaking.

Prior to the downing down tools thousands of people were dying every month from simple, treatable health conditions, which because of poor diagnosis, inadequate resources, and inappropriate treatment, degenerated into complex and life threatening diseases.

Compounded by acute shortage of clean, safe drinking water, poor sanitation and lack of access to electricity, most hospitals in the country had themselves become death traps. But that was pre strikes by  nurses and doctors.

despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars to transform and build the resilience of the country's healthcare service, today information from the.ground contains disturbing evidence of very poor standards of care in the country is now fast sleep-walking into its pre iron age era. Why? These are the disturbing findings of the People investigation into conditions in hospitals and community healthcare centres across the country.

Devastating impact of service failure across the health care sector in the country is unbelievable. It seems as though there is ministry of health functioning at all.  Almost all hospitals nurses report for duty twice a week because they are not paid enough even for transport. If this does not move the minister of health what then can move him.

It can be said that  failure in service provision, implementation of misguided health policies, plans and projects; and above all corruption, have had a devastating impact on the health care sector in Zimbabwe.

Healthcare problems in Zimbabwe range from inadequate policy monitoring, mistreatment of patients, shortage of drugs and medical supplies in public health institutions, poorly equipped health centres, lack of labs, lack of modern medical equipment, scattered storage facilities for drugs, to proliferation of poorly constructed health centres with no water facilities.

We are also aware that even with these limited resources, the problems are further compounded by rampant corruption, impeding access to quality, equitable and effective health services.

there is stagnation in the growth and development of administrative staff, disregard for policy and authority and poor work ethics among frontline health workers.
most of the drugs supplied from the Central Medical Stores to sub-medical stores across the country and selected Peripheral Health Care Units are either expired or close to expiration .

It is sad to note that Government-owned hospitals in the country inflict more pain on patients and their relatives, than the ailments that take them to the hospitals. Nearly all the public health facilities in lack basic modern medical equipment.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations is the global expression of the rights of every human being and it includes the right to adequate healthcare.

The Republic of Zimbabwe Constitution echoes this where it states that The State shall recognise, maintain and enhance the sanctity of the human person and human dignity".

This means that there should be adequate medical and health facilities for all persons.

In view of the above, people believe that it behoves them to bring the following to light and urge the Government to take the necessary steps to address them and fast.
Reports onHospital Mortuaries revealed that dead bodies have already surpassed the freezing capacity. The facility can no longer accommodate the daily influx of dead bodies.

Bodies are laid on the bare ground because there is no available space left in the freezing room.

At the outpatients department, there is a culture of laissez faire and corruption by nurses and paramedical staff who often turn down appeals to treat dying patients because they cannot pay bribes.

Nurses speak to their patients in very harsh tones and would not attend to them on time if none of them knows or is related to them.

Nurses in some hospitals collect money from patients before issuing them registration cards and deceive people into believing that it is a normal and legal practice.
The Intensive Care Unit, where sick people rely on electricity for their survival, often experience power cuts and the stand by generator is often without fuel.

The water facility within the hospital complex is not sufficient.

In major Hospitals there is no free health care, no water supply, very few beds and few medical personnel.

Huge numbers of pregnant School girls between the ages of 14 to 18 always flood the Centre for treatment that they don't receive. The country has gone back to traditional midwives. The whole system has leaped backwards a thousand years.   
Government Hospitals has less than Twenty-five Nurses who respond to thousands of patients from communities within that area, according to their register. Their toilet facility is in bad shape, with poor water and sanitation facilities.

There is rampant bribery for treatment , mostly perpetuated by the Nurses.  Nurses have no choice because they are not paid enough even for bus fare.

The few Nurses assigned to the Centre often show up late for duty and sometimes do not show up at all. It is observed that it is due to negligence on the part of the Ministry of Health who have deliberately refused to motivate the Nurses, especially the volunteers.

In most hospitals there are insufficient bedding facilities. The facilities are highly congested, with Pregnant and Lactating mothers sleeping side-by-side on a single bed and two to three children sometimes put on a single bed to sleep.
For the last six months, some women lost their babies during delivery and as a result of botched caesarean operations. There are only no specialist gynaecologists at the hospital and they do all the operations.

The patient population is far beyond the available staff. Although a shift system has been introduced by the Ministry of Health , giving the right to nurses to report for work on a shift basis that is twice a weekqi.e. in the morning, afternoon and night, there are still challenging issues as some nurse still do not show up for duty.
some night duty nurses never show up. Some come to the hospital in the morning to register, only to leave after a few minutes, pretending that they worked overnight.
This brings the conclusion that the number of nurses reported by the ministry to be attached to that hospital is untrue.it is believed that if a physical verification of nurses is requested, it will reveal that there are still ghost health workers in the system. Considering that Zimbabwe has the highest number of trained but jobless nurses in Africa it only means someone is benefiting from the plight of the nurses.
children are never given free medical treatment.in Zimbabwe. Whenever a sick child is taken to the hospital for treatment, the senior nurses would pretend the required medicines for the treatment are not available. This is done so that the parents will be directed to pharmacies which pay the nurses for the referrals.  Zimbabwe has lot its fibre

It is true that after a certain prescription is issued to patients at the hospital, the nurses will claim that such drugs are not available. If their relatives have the money to procure the medicines, they would be made to wait for several hours on the pretext that the medicines are sold at a far distance.

The Ministry of Health is one of the largest ministries of government in terms of its budgetary allocations and operational activities. It is responsible for the overall formulation of national health policy and the supervision of health facilities, among other functions.

it bears the greatest responsibility for this decadence and should be made to account for all the anomalies and be forced to make the changes where they are due and very fast.

The attitude of the ministry to simply ignore the plight of the nation   Our health system  has gone to the  dogs.
Zimbabwe deserves better than this.


Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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