Bulawayo blast exposes ailing health institutions

BEYOND the horrific pictures of bloodied and shredded limbs following a blast which went-off at the recent Zanu PF rally addressed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa at White City stadium, is a stark reality of the country’s public health facilities.

Once again the state of public hospitals has been dragged to the fore with sad pictures of the victims lying on torn and washed out blankets.

The state of the linen is just but a small window into what has become the facilities which are literally falling to pieces. Lack of adequate funding coupled with maladministration has reduced the once life-giving healthcare centres into death traps to be avoided at all costs.

No wonder medical tourism is flourishing in this country with well-resourced people flying out for medical attention, because no one would want to spend a single night on a rickety bed with the infamous grey and red blankets.

The recent pictures of victims from the blast only reminded the country of the serious neglect of the facilities and it is incomprehensible to imagine the situation if the blast had been of a bigger magnitude.

In some of the pictures, victims are using folded blankets as pillows.

This is not only dehumanising, but casts a shadow of doubt on the ability to handle a full throttle crisis.

The night of the dreadful event, Mpilo Hospital was a hive of activity and one could tell that the staff were overwhelmed and clearly desperate to manage the crisis.

Sadly, two lives were lost in this blast, but it is possible that this could have been avoided were our hospitals adequately equipped and staffed by well-paid personnel.

Health and Child Care minister, David Parirenyatwa himself looked flustered as he battled to ensure the situation was brought under control.

It is our utmost hope that President Emmerson Mnangagwa himself got a glimpse of the state of the hospitals and will ensure that resources are channelled where they are needed most.

Limited resource allocation to the health sector continues to put a strain on the service delivery system, which has seen most public hospitals operating below capacity.

According to Parirenyatwa, at least $1,1 billion is required annually to improve resource availability in the health sector against the just over $400 million being allocated by the government.

More funding should be channelled towards the public health system, specifically at the district and community levels where there are large numbers of people seeking public health services. This will also address the issue of referrals and alleviate the numbers that are now seeking care at the central hospitals.

It is also time Zimbabwe stops being depended on donors to support our health institutions. We have been saying this again and again; the millions of dollars government is spending buying expensive vehicles and other luxuries should be channelled towards our hospitals to ensure that our people get the services they deserve.

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