THE President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government has failed to stem the public health crisis which has persisted for close to four months following the industrial action by doctors, with patients being turned away at major referral centres across the country yesterday.
BY PHYLLIS MBANJE/NIZBERT MOYO
Zimbabwe State doctors, who downed tools on September 2, have insisted that they would only go back to work after their grievances had been addressed.
Among their major concerns were their salaries as well as the lack of equipment, drugs and sundries which they said made their work difficult. Most hospitals do not have basic stuff like stop pain tablets, gloves and health personnel had resorted to unorthodox means to cover for the inadequacies.
The public hospitals have been described as death traps and quite recently, a surgery was nearly compromised at Parirenyatwa Hospital following a power failure.
In a statement following a social media backlash on the matter, the hospital said it had experienced a power technical fault and not load-shedding.
“The hospital engineer immediately engaged Zesa who within 20 minutes sent their electricians to rectify the problem,” the statement read.
The hospital said power was restored within an hour, but in the meantime a back-up generator had kicked in the moment power went off.
“As a matter of fact, three cases were done in the theatres during the time of the power cut using the generator back up system.
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals insisted that it was not a power cut since they have never been on the Zesa load-shedding schedule.
However, as the new year beckons, the chaos in the health sector has reached a new level with patients still being turned away and referred to the private sector which many cannot afford.
A tour of public facilities like Harare, Parirenyatwa, Mpilo Central and United Bulawayo Hospitals yesterday revealed that patients are still being turned away except for a few emergency cases.
The NewsDay crew witnessed this at Parirenyatwa, Mpilo and UBH’s casualty departments where patients, some needing specialist attention were turned away.
A doctor (name supplied) who was on duty went through the queue of patients at Parirenyatwa and the bulk of them were sent home.
He was overheard telling patients that doctors were on strike. A young boy who apparently had been assaulted by neighbours and suffered chest injuries could not be assisted as well.
His concerned relatives inquired how they should proceed and were told that they would have to go to Westend or come back when the doctors assume duty. “We do not have money for private care and are worried about his injuries. He has a police report but they said they needed an affidavit but that could not be drawn up because there are no doctors,” said the distraught relatives.
One doctor was attending to emergencies only at Mpilo, with patients waiting for several hours to get treatment.
“There is only one doctor in the casualty department and none in the outpatients. What can he do alone with so many of us like this here,” a patient awaiting treatment at Mpilo said.
Gogo maNcube said: “I came from Tsholotsho and have been here for over eight hours. I pricked a finger while tilling and require doctors to remove the thorn that is giving me sleepless nights before they can transfer me to Tsholotsho.”
However Mpilo clinical director Solwayo Ngwenya said: “We are doing the best that we can. We have always been attending to patients. There are 130 doctors attending to patients out of 200 doctors. We are waiting for the situation to improve,” he said.