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Govt must fix healthcare system

The Zimbabwean health sector has over the years seriously deteriorated with health institutions operating with inadequate drugs, equipment and staff.

BY LORRAINE MUROMO/ REX MPHISA THE Zimbabwean government has been challenged to fix the country’s ailing healthcare system, which has forced citizens to cross the border to neighbouring South Africa to access better health services.

This follows a disturbing video clip on Tuesday which showed Limpopo province doctor and Member of the Executive Committee (MEC), Phophi Ramathuba dehumanising a Zimbabwean patient at Bela Bela Hospital in SA.

The Zimbabwean health sector has over the years seriously deteriorated with health institutions operating with inadequate drugs, equipment and staff.

Zimbabwe Exiles Forum Representative Tino Mambeu said the blame should be put on the Zimbabwean government for allowing health services to dilapidate, resulting in Zimbabweans crossing the border to access better healthcare services.

“The Zimbabwean situation has reached serious calamity when we think that South Africa and Zanu PF as the ruling party must come to terms with reality and figure a way forward as we approach the elections next year,” Mambeu said.

“The cause of these problems is not South Africans, the problem is our government led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, and in that video, she was not blaming the patient, she managed to tell us who the elephant in the room is. She said Mnangagwa is responsible for providing you with healthcare.”

Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono appeared on Sabc News accusing the Zanu PF government of looting public health funds at the expense of suffering Zimbabwean patients.

“What we see in that video is a direct consequence of mis-governance in Zimbabwe. The people that have destroyed Zimbabwe’s healthcare system are Zanu PF. South Africans are not the issue, it is Zanu PF that is stealing money meant for hospitals and medicines,” Chin’ono said.

“What we should be asking ourselves is why Mnangagwa and his government are not funding hospitals when the money is there. Why can’t Mnangagwa provide a painkiller that costs only 50 cents?

“At times we don’t know who to vent our anger against. We just had a Zanu PF thief who looted US$5 million and many voices went to sleep. US$5 million would run Parirenyatwa Hospital at world-class levels for six months, yet we don’t get upset by such brazen corruption.”

Political analyst Methuseli Moyo said: “Clearly the attitude of the SA government towards Zimbabweans has been deteriorating. I think the authorities are under political pressure from the SA public, the majority who are openly opposed to the presence of Zimbabweans in their country

“It used to be ordinary South Africans, but even government officials are speaking ill about foreigners. It is their country, and they can never be wrong to say foreigners, especially illegal ones, must go back.”

Meanwhile, Ramathuba has defended her position saying it was surprising how Southern African Development Community (Sadc) partners were ready to pay private hospitals in South Africa in millions of rand, but were not willing to support State hospitals.

“We reach a level where we need to educate the patient and ask them the fairness of it,” Ramathuba said.

In a statement yesterday, the South African Health Department said while it was investigating the matter, it was difficult to put into context the conversation between Ramathuba and the affected patient.

“We acknowledge that the public healthcare system is struggling in some areas to meet the healthcare needs of the citizens and reduce the backlogs due to unpredictably high number of undocumented migrants from neighbouring countries seeking healthcare services in the country, other than the asylum seekers and refugees,” the statement read.

It said the issue had been discussed at Sadc level to try and come up with solutions.

“Limpopo province is one of the affected provinces, and despite these challenges, the healthcare workers must ensure that they maintain high moral obligation and standards in their work in line with the Hippocratic Oath, together with the National Health Act and the Refugee Act of South Africa.  This does not mean that all services are free, because only primary healthcare services are provided free of charge, but higher levels of care are subjected to a fee.”

  • Follow Lorraine on Twitter @RMuromo

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