SERVICE delivery at public hospitals has plummeted to alarming levels with admissions down to between 15 and 20% as doctors and nurses continue with their industrial action for better working conditions.
BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
So desperate is the situation that patients are literally being sent home to die since many cannot afford the option of private care which is paid for in foreign currency.With only less than 10% of the population on medical insurance, many have resorted to home-based care and traditional remedies.
“Spent last night moving from one medical facility to another for medical attention. Saw frail and hopeless people. Saw people in pain. Saw people crying after losing their loved ones. One person in the next room died. You are still alive and well? Be grateful and make it count,” this, sadly was one of the few last tweets from the late human rights defender Patson Dzamara who succumbed to colon cancer on Wednesday before he could raise the US$27 000 required for surgery.
While public hospitals have been struggling with little resources, the situation has been worsened by the stand- off between the health workers and their employer.The Zimbabwe Nurses Association has blamed the government for the carnage in public hospitals by not addressing the outstanding issues.
“We remain greatly disturbed by the non-functioning of our health sector and people potentially dying in their homes. Government has a duty to protect human life and guarantee health services,” read statement from Zina.
Commenting on the matter, MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said the health system required urgent attention.
“The Constitution guarantees the right to health, yet the State does precious little to secure this right. Nurses remain on strike. Hospitals are underfunded. Doctors are underpaid. Lives are lost needlessly,”she tweeted.
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals recently indicated that the industrial action greatly affected service delivery at the institution.
“This has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which has seen some of the few staff members reporting for duty getting infected and going for isolation. The above two factors are affecting our capacity to admit more patients,”said the hospital’s spokesperson Lenos Dhire.
He added that currently they were relying on the few nurses and doctors who did not join the strike and cadres seconded from the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services and Zimbabwe National Army as well as new recruits.
“Currently, our admission levels are around 15 to 20% of our capacity,” he said.At Chitungwiza Central Hospital, they are only admitting emergencies and maternity cases.
“Chronic patients who need resupply of drugs should go to local clinics,” spokesperson Audrey Tasaranarwo said.She also said they had scaled down on operations when the lockdown was initiated.“Matrons, sisters-in-charge and newly-appointed nurses are attending to patients,” she said.