Editorial Comment: The tragedy of Zim’s failing health system

Editorial Comment

Hordes of desperate patients have been making a beeline to Karanda Mission Hospital in Mt Darwin and other countryside mission hospitals after being failed by urban public health facilities which are in a semi-comatose state.

It is disheartening that people in fragile conditions are enduring the bumpy uncomfortable roads which lead to far-away mission hospitals which are clearly operating beyond its capacity.

The staff has been working around the clock but they keep reporting to work and with each passing day it gets harder as the wards fill up to capacity with some patients sleeping on the floor.

This is dehumanising and speaks volumes about the healthcare system in Zimbabwe which is now at the bottom rung.

While service remains exceptional and beyond reproach at these mission hospitals, fatigue and disgruntlement will set in slowly and one shudders at what will eventually become of the staff if they do not get some reprieve from the onslaught.

Even their healthy medicine stocks have suffered a huge blow and might struggle to recover. The blame falls squarely on the Health minister and the Health Services Board for failing to resolve the doctors’ concerns with the urgency they deserve.

It is heartbreaking to see patients suffering to that extent with no meaningful solutions in sight — but more threats to fire doctors.

The situation is likely to worsen as we approach the festive season and more road traffic accidents occur. Many will end up at Karanda and it remains to be seen how the hospital will cope.

Karanda has become a beacon of hope in the midst of the shambolic state of our health delivery system. The staff and those who fund the hospital must be applauded for remaining calm under extraordinarily chaotic conditions.

Lessons that can be drawn from Karanda, however, point to adequate funding and excellent management style of the hospital. It also speaks of good teamwork which is edified by strong ethos and observance of the patient charter.

The terrible tales of each and every one of the patients at Karanda may never be told but what is clear is that the masses are going through a torrid time and it is time for the responsible authorities to rescue its populace from such torture.

Funding for the public hospitals should be top on government’s priority list as well as the political will to see it through.

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