BY BLESSED MHLANGA
DOCTORS at government hospitals have denied claims by the Health ministry that they had received supplies of medicines, bandages and critical accessories to alleviate their plight, following last week’s protests.
A team of senior doctors visited National Pharmaceuticals (NatPham) at the invitation of Health minister Obadiah Moyo, to see the supplies and reportedly came back dejected.
“The minister told us that there were stocks at NatPharm. He told us to send representatives to go and see on our behalf and when they went there, all they found were a few samples,” a doctor, who refused to be named, said.
The doctors met and resolved to give government two weeks to improve their conditions of service or face a shutdown of hospitals if there was no improvement in the supplies.
“People were discussing on whether to hold a Press conference or to wait for two weeks and give the government a chance to act. Eventually we agreed to wait and see if concrete action will be taken,” the doctor said.
NatPharm’s Flora Sifeku refused to comment on the level of drug stocks, saying she was attending to a call from her bosses.
African Council of Optometry president-elect Richard Maveneka said public hospitals in Zimbabwe were being left to collapse because government leaders were seeking medical attention outside the country.
“Parliament should pass laws that prohibit our leaders from seeking medical attention from outside Zimbabwe. They must be forced at law to get treated in government hospitals. This will ensure development of medical facilities and priority in terms of budgets and procurement of basic tools of trade,” he said.
Ministers, top civil servants, top army personnel and members of the Presidium have been accessing medical treatment in South Africa and India while local health institutions wre being left to collapse.
Former Health minister and MDC secretary for health Henry Madzorera said NatPham was dry and basic medical accessories had not been procured since the doctors’ outcry.
He said it was important for government to stop flying top government officials to foreign countries, but use the money to equip and upgrade hospitals.
“We know over $500 000 was used to airlift the [Vice-President Constatino] Chiwenga to South Africa and India for treatment. More was paid for other expenses. Imagine the effect this money would have had on procurement of medical supplies,” he said.
Build Zimbabwe president Noah Manyika said the biggest tragedy in Zimbabwe was the lies told by government officials in times of crisis.
“The other tragedy of our country is that we often are pacified by announcements like this. This minister either had no clue about the state of the hospitals or simply did not care, believing that the doctors were too afraid to expose the rot. The issue here is: Why were these drugs not budgeted for in the first place? We have heard the boasts about surpluses from the 2% tax. Why wasn’t the minister publicly demanding that some of that goes to his ministry to stop children from dying needlessly? Besides, anyone who knows the scale of the problems in our healthcare system knows that $1 million is a drop in the ocean,” he said.