Things fall apart at Murambinda

It was a tragedy that stunned a small family in Buhera when their relative, who had suddenly fallen sick, died in the desperate hands of his parents because the local and only hospital in the area could not do much because there were no drugs.

Saturday Dialogue Ropafadzo Mapimhidze

This is a population that has suddenly been left without immediate access to urgent medical care, just like what is happening in a growing number of communities nationwide.

The death of this young man is one of the many incidents happening in and around Buhera, where things seem to be falling apart at Murambinda Mission Hospital, following withdrawal of funding and health personnel from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

Patients are now travelling to Mutare General Hospital, which is about 165km away, an exercise that has proved costly for the majority of the inhabitants of this drought-stricken district, which lies in Manicaland province.

Reports indicate that the situation is very desperate, as patients are now being given prescriptions to buy medicines from pharmacies, which most rural folk cannot afford.

The hospital, which also ran a successful HIV programme that was jointly managed by MSF and the government, was a lifeline for many in the district and for those from nearby districts.

For many HIV patients, the availability of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) has made life easier and prolonged their lifespan.

The hospital is a referral hospital for 29 clinics in the district, which has a population of nearly 300 000 people residing in four constituencies and 33 wards.

The burden of sickness had become easier to bear because most of the inhabitants, who work and live in cities like Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo and Mutare had been receiving medical attention at Murambinda Mission Hospital, whose fees were affordable.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Buhera Rural District Council has appealed to the Buhera Development Association, alerting them of the dire situation that has befallen this medical institution.

Press reports, which are yet to be confirmed, have also said villagers are unhappy about alleged corruption at the hospital, where patients are made to pay for drugs that are supposed to be free.

They also allege that they are made to wait for long hours in queues before they are attended to, something that never happened when MSF was assisting the institution.

MSF started operating in Murambinda in 2003, where they also ran a nutrition programme, which they later handed over to the government in 2009 following a robust improvement in nutrition levels among the villagers.

Since the treatment was decentralised to other outlying clinics in the district, patients no longer slept in queues at Murambinda Mission Hospital, as has become the case today.

Reports from Buhera indicate that drugs have run out at the hospital, hence, patients are now being given prescriptions to buy medication from privately-owned pharmacies, which sell drugs at amounts most villagers cannot afford.

The main objective of this hospital was to provide a good secondary health care, with emphasis on maternity care, tuberculosis and HIV and Aids.

Built by the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary in 1968, under the endorsement and supervision of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Harare, Murambinda Hospital is administered by the Health ministry.

A school of nursing that is affiliated and sits adjacent to the hospital is also owned and administered under similar arrangements by the Roman Catholic Church in conjuction with the government.

The hospital has at least 200 beds and is the only such institution in Buhera district.

Technically, the government is expected to provide subsidies and financial assistance, although sometimes that assistance never comes, hence, this hospital had managed to survive through donor funding.

Hospitals in Zimbabwe are unevenly distributed, necessitating the need for mission hospitals like Karanda in Mount Darwin, Howard in Chiweshe and All-Souls in Mutoko, which tend to bear the burden of what the leading hospitals in the country should carry, because they offer a service that is affordable and satisfactory. There is reason for concern that the trend will escalate.

The situation isn’t, however, much better in cities.

In many communities around the country, hospitals are one of — if not the — largest employers.

Consequently, there are undoubtedly economic issues that would befall an area if its hospital failed to offer the most basic medical treatment. The logic is fairly straightforward: If a hospital fails to attend to its citizens, it reduces access to certain types of care. If access to care is reduced, people’s health suffers.

The situation, as it stands, Murambinda Mission Hospital is as good as closed, because there is not much that is being offered in terms of basic medical treatment.

Lifestyle-related illnesses are more common in the rural areas, hence, Murambinda Mission Hospital was particularly well-known for its effective and excellent treatment of communicable diseases like TB and HIV and Aids.

However, although the majority of Zimbabweans live in rural areas, access is the major health issue because resources are concentrated in major cities.

Many rural and remote communities bear the cost of global change without the commensurate benefits.

All of these issues are accentuated in the context of often serious shortages of doctors, nurses and other health service providers in rural and/or remote areas.

Murambinda Mission Hospital requires sufficient numbers of doctors and other health care providers, who have the necessary skills to work effectively and comfortably in these areas.

Murambinda Hospital was a marvel and a spectacle for Buhera residents and it is imperative that all stakeholders sit and discuss ways and means of bringing operations at this institution to full throttle.

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  1. mgobhozi wezintabeni

    This scenario is not peculiar to Murambinda it is wide spread and happening through out the country.A child in rural just a week ago was struck by a cobra, efforts were made to call an ambulance but it delayed, by the time it came,the child had already died.A year ago,a man was struck by a black mamba,he managed to reach the hospital alive and his relatives thought the man would survive,unknown to these people,there was no anti venom drugs and the man died.All these incidents took place in Lupane rural areas.This shows the perilous state of our health delivery system in the country.

  2. masvingo nepothole

    and the president gets his healthchecked in singapore. he cant even trust zim health care system to give him a painkiller for a simple headache.

  3. That is a pathetic situation happening at Murambinda Hosipital. I would like to advise fellow Zimbabweans that we adopted the Western Medical system not meant for us. Our great grandfathers used to survive on whole foods which were highly nutritious but we are over consuming junk Western processed foods without any nutrients. Western foods lead lead to Western diseases which requires Western medicine a trillion dollar spinner for pharmaceutical companies. ARVs just suppress the symptoms of HIV/AIDS they do not heal the diseases, just revert to natural immune boosting diets which are plenty in Buhera. People do not know that the problem is not the HIV virus but its the compromised immune system due to overconsumptive undernutrition of empty calorie foods. We are victims of over dependency on donor programs , lets start our own natural health local community support groups. May you please log onto Facebook – Genesis Holistic Health Centre and a Naturopath in Zimbabwe can naturally boost your CD4 count from below 300 to above 1000 within a period of three to six months. All opportunistic infections and related diseases of HIV/AIDs will be automatically reversed.

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