By Garikai Mafirakureva

THE country’s continued economic meltdown has forced nurses and staff at Chiredzi General Hospital to device bizarre methods of supplementing their meagre salaries.

It is alleged that they have thrown professional health standards through the window, and are now selling repacked overnight mahewu and uncertified frozen water to patients admitted at the hospital.

This was revealed by Tafara Pondiwa, the director of Divine Foundation Trust — a community-based organisation that focuses on career guidance and advocacy on social and educational issues and educational requirements for under-privileged children and physically challenged children.

In a letter addressed to the hospital matron, seen by Southern Eye, Pondiwa highlighted his organisation’s health concerns and the risks patients were exposed to as a result of the nurses’ conduct.

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Part of the letter read: “The problem we are encountering is at the hospital and especially in the wards is the selling of home-made repacked overnight mahewu and frozen water to hospitalised patients by nurses and police officers’ wives, who are putting patients at risk of disease infection.

“As an organisation we are worried about the stuff sold because it has come to our attention that they pick used bottles and re-pack them with water and mahewu. We request your office to help us by enforcing and restricting the sale of such food items in hospital wards.”

Pondiwa added that they were forced to write to the hospital after efforts to engage those involved proved futile. “As you can see the hospital stamped this letter acknowledging that they have received it. Now we are going to take further action to put this practice to an end. They have given us a deaf ear, maybe they think they are above the law.

“We know the economic situation is not favourable, but we thought nurses, as people who uphold highest levels of health standards they were going to be the last people to engage in such a practice,” he said.

One patient, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she was not aware of the health risks she was exposed to and instead said she was grateful to have cold water at a cheaper price.

“I do not think there might be any health issues to talk about, because I enjoy their mahewu as well as their cold water. It is a fact that Chiredzi is one of the hottest districts, so that is the only way we can cool ourselves. “We are saved from walking to the nearest shops (those who can walk) and the products are cheap.”

Chiredzi General Hospital superintendent, David Tarumbwa could not be reached for comment. His mobile went unanswered.

Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo said investigations can only be carried out if the questions are forwarded to the ministry’s public relations manager Donald Mujiri.

“Just contact Mujiri and he will give you the answer after investigations,” he said.

However, Mujiri could not be reached for comment as his mobile also went unanswered.