BY VENERANDA LANGA
SENIOR doctors have told Parliament that US$3,5 million injected by a well-wisher at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals to purchase critical heart equipment had gone missing.
This was raised before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chaired by Ruth Labode, which had visited Parirenyatwa and Sally Mugabe Central hospitals in response to a petition by the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) to investigate the myriad of problems at public health institutions.
MPs heard sad stories from doctors, among them Parirenyatwa head of paediatrics division, Azzah Mashumba, and SHDA president Shingai Nyaguse, who broke down as they narrated the sorry state of affairs at public hospitals.
The doctors said the well-wisher had provided money to buy a cath-lab, which is essential for diagnostic imaging in order to visualise the arteries of the heart during a heart operation.
A senior surgeon, who preferred anonymity fearing victimisation, said Zimbabwe was the only country in the region which did not have a cath-lab.
The surgeon said surgeons were
currently operating on patients sweating in non-air conditioned theatres.
“I have been at Parirenyatwa for 37 years and I have never seen a hospital coming to rock bottom because the equipment purchased has no service contracts (guarantee for servicing) and there is no accountability in terms of equipment purchased and drugs,” the surgeon said.
“Capital equipment is disappearing because we are not accounting for it. I asked for a cath-lab to be purchased in 2018 and US$3,5 million was availed by a donor for its purchase, and I saw the money, but that cath-lab has not been delivered and the money disappeared.”
Labode said the disappearance of the US$3,5 million was disturbing and Parliament would investigate the matter.
“We will call the hospital administration to tell us what happened to the US$3,5 million and if there is a case, the matter should be before the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission,” Labode later told NewsDay in an interview.
Another senior doctor revealed that intensive care unit (ICU) equipment at Parirenyatwa was bought when the late former President Robert Mugabe’s sister Bridget Mugabe was admitted at the hospital.
“We wrote to Mugabe to get the equipment for the ICU and it was bought because there was his sister. But this is some of the equipment that is now derelict. There are many things happening at Parirenyatwa,” the senior doctor said.
Mashumba and Nyaguse also demanded thorough investigation on the US$600 000 Indian equipment which was delivered at hospital with some parts missing, while other equipment had wrong specifications.
“We (doctors) gave them the correct specifications of the equipment that we needed, but someone went to India and bought the wrong equipment and now we are surprised that they are saying it was us (doctors) who recommended the purchase of that equipment. It’s not fair,” Mashumba told the committee in tears.
She said it took months for the commissioning of the equipment to happen, and when it came and the boxes opened, some pieces were missing.
“We have tried everything and nothing will change because we continue like that. When the tender was awarded, doctors were not consulted,” Mashumba said.
Another surgeon, Edwin Muguti (former Health deputy minister), said due to poor revenue control, hospital pharmacies, X-Ray and radiology services were not functioning properly.
“If a patient has a biopsy for cancer, they wait for three months for results, which is not good for a person who potentially has cancer and yet at private centres, the results are released in three days,” he said.
At Sally Mugabe Central Hospital where the situation was worse than Parirenyatwa, Hwange Central MP Daniel Molokela (MDC Alliance) blasted the hospital administration after the committee found some of the equipment from India, comprising a bubble crap with stands, had been lying idle from October last year after it was delivered defective and doctors refused to use it.
“People are dying like flies every day and yet the equipment was delivered last year in October. You could have returned it and asked for a replacement,” Molokela said to Sally Mugabe Central chief executive officer Tinashe Dhobi.