HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsComment: No recovery — we’re going backwards

Comment: No recovery — we’re going backwards

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Talk about recovery in this country has often centred on GDP growth, capacity utilisation in industry, inflation, per capita income and the whole gamut of economic data often used to measure wealth.

Only recently government has been talking about positive economic growth projections buoyed by a revival in agriculture, mining and the manufacturing sector.

All these so-called growth figures, however, do not mean much to the ordinary person, as long as statistics fail to translate into tangible and improved social services.

Unfortunately growth indicators in this area do not need to be designated in figures, tables or graphs.

The best measure of improved social services is always perception of users of services.

Zimbabwe has a serious perception problem at the moment. Social services, especially health, have not improved in sync with the much-touted recovery as portrayed in figures.

There is all the evidence that the health delivery system in this country — which last year started showing signs of coming out of unconsciousness — is slipping back into a coma.

Government-run institutions can no longer be trusted to provide service because the age-old problems have now taken root at the hospitals.

There are no drugs; doctors and nurses are unhappy and often appear unenthusiastic about their work. Vital equipment has broken down and important facilities like toilets, boilers and mortuaries have remained out of service.

Major institutions like Harare Central Hospital have at times operated without water. Most rural institutions do not have back-up power to cater for critical cases in the event of blackouts.

Reports from medical officials in Matabeleland provinces indicate that major referral hospitals like Mpilo Central Hospital and smaller institutions in Matabeleland North and South, the Midlands and Masvingo have no functional laboratories and cancer radiotheraphy machines are always out of order.

Most lab tests from these hospitals are sent to Harare. The reports say it takes at least a month to get the results from the capital and a number of those patients waiting for results would have died.

More worryingly, the little resources that have been made available to the health sector are not being put to good use.

We reported yesterday that at Mpilo Central Hospital, the institution’s administration had decided to spoil its senior members of staff with laptops and air-conditioners at a time when there is inadequate funding for key items like drugs, drips and bandages.

A Rwandan medical practitioner and civil rights activist said at a conference in Mutare last year that the easiest way to gauge social development in a country is by visiting the maternity wards of government hospitals and studying the state of teachers; how they dress and where they live.

This measure alone will say a lot about social development in this country.

We are going backwards — fast. Whatever political rhetoric about recovery from our political minders, we have become an underdeveloped country where pregnant women have to bring candles and water buckets to hospitals and where teachers beg food from schoolchildren. What kind of recovery is this?

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