THE front page story in our NewsDay edition yesterday made sad reading that many questions begging answers, especially given that a system which Dr Mthabisi Nembaware so wholeheartedly worked for dismally failed to save his life at the most critical moment.
We understand that Nembaware’s fate started to unfold soon after being involved in a road traffic accident on his way from work at Honde Valley’s Hauna Hospital. Most worrying about the sequence of events which followed up to his death, is that it speaks volumes about the economy and the state of the health service delivery in general.
The first question which nagged the mind following the death of the young doctor was: What the hell was Dr Nembaware doing in a pirate taxi, an illegal mode of transport which is hardly fit for any citizen, let alone a whole doctor? Has the esteem of our doctors now fallen so low that they are stooping to the point of boarding mushikashikas to answer the call of duty?
This clearly shows that there is, indeed, something gravely wrong with Zimbabwe’s economy, which curiously was last week described by President Emmerson Mnangagwa as one of fastest growing in the region when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly. Surely, how can a doctor working in a ticking economy fail to afford his own vehicle to use on his errands, or better still how can the government institution he was working for not afford a vehicle for its doctor if the economy is healthy?
More questions cropped up when we heard that the hospital where he was admitted, Mutare General Hospital, had no functional Intensive Care Unit (ICU). For goodness sake, this is a hospital in the country’s third biggest city and that the ICU there was out of order churns the intestines. So have our major hospitals now turned into death traps?
And when efforts were made to airlift our dear departed doctor to Harare, a helicopter could not land at the city’s airport because there were no runway lights. To imagine that this airport is supposed to be the gateway to one of Zimbabwe’s prime tourist destinations, the scenic Eastern Highlands, makes one’s brains spin in disbelief. So in which direction is our economy fast growing when the progress cannot be seen on a simple airport?
If Nembaware’s death does not jolt our government to do something, especially for our health sector and its personnel, then cry our beloved Zimbabwe.
New Health minister, Douglas Mombeshora’s work is more than cut out as Nembaware’s demise clearly indicates.
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Nembaware was among the few doctors who chose to remain committed to serving their country despite everything crumbling around them, as many other health professionals left for greener pastures. Honestly, these dedicated doctors and other health personnel deserve better and we implore Mombeshora, also a doctor in his own right, to please do something urgently for our healthcare sector.
Zimbabwe cannot afford to have a dysfunctional health delivery system because it speaks to the very health of the economy. In fact, it is now becoming more than an embarrassment that the state of the country’s health sector has deteriorated to such low levels when it was among the best in sub-Saharan Africa, once upon a time.