Hospitals of death

HARARE – It is 9am and there is hustle and bustle at the country’s largest medical centre Parirenyatwa Hospital.

The emergency room is packed to the rafters with patients sitting on benches, wheelchairs and stretcher beds.

Some are bleeding profusely, some are groaning in excruciating pain, others are lying lifeless on stretcher beds and on floors, while relatives are performing amateurish first aid on unattended patients.

It is the same situation if not worse at Harare Hospital. You can smell death in the corridors of Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals — visiting the two health institutions is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

The situation prevailing at Parirenyatwa Hospital, named after the first black Zimbabwean doctor, Tichafa Samuel Parirenyatwa, reveals that this basic fundamental human right will remain a pipe dream for the average Zimbabwean.

This is all in spite of the fact that  provision of efficient and affordable health care was a strong rallying issue during the liberation struggle. Sadly, Zimbabweans are no better off, 33 years after independence.

Bogged down by serious brain drain which has seen a good number of qualified health personnel migrate in search of greener pastures in the region and abroad.

Parirenyatwa Hospital also faces a serious shortage of basic equipment.

The hospital, which has a medical, surgical, paediatric, maternity section in the main complex, has literally become a centre of death as it fails to function at full capacity.

Nothing about the manner in which patients presenting themselves at the hospital’s emergency section are attended to resembles a sense of urgency.

Tuesday morning, the Daily News spent half a day at Parirenyatwa Hospital where scores of people, some who had come as early as 6am, had still not been attended to by 11am.

A wailing policewoman who was wheeled into the hospital on a stretcher bed by her fellow cops only received attention after her colleagues intervened, even though her blood-soaked body  revealed that she might have been involved in an accident.

One would have expected the hospital staff to rush to the aid of the woman, who was writhing in pain, but they took their time to attend to her.

At one time, an elderly nurse who seemed to be the matron, came out and complained about the slow service by the staff, but that did not improve matters.

The seemingly overwhelmed staff instead went on a tea break, giving one the sense that staffers at the hospital which also houses the University Of Zimbabwe College Of Health Sciences had gotten accustomed to leaving people screaming in the passages to have their breakfast sandwiches.

The emergency section also boasts of a resuscitation section where at least five patients were being attended to.

At least eight were lying lifeless on stretcher beds in the corridor near the resuscitation room, probably waiting for their chance to be revived.

At around 10:30am, a Doves Funeral parlour vehicle, pulled up and carried away a body.

The service at the hospital is lethargic.

It literally took about 30 minutes for a very sick woman to be lifted out of the taxi she had arrived in.

Her bewildered relatives had to first of all find a stretcher bed where they struggled to put her in.

And this is normal procedure for patients who do not arrive in ambulances. The Daily News understands  there are just three functioning ambulances in Harare.

A few who arrived in private ambulances from organisations like Emras, were  attended to quickly.

An old lady who only identified herself as Ambuya Banda, who was holding a two-week-old baby, said she had brought her daughter-in law to the emergency section at 6am but had not been treated by 11am.

“My daughter-in-law had a Caesarean operation two weeks ago but now the operation has burst. We came here very early hoping to be attended to but she still has not received treatment because by the time we got here, the queue was already long,” she said yesterday.

At around 12pm, the daughter-in-law came back with news that the hospital wanted $15 as consultation fees.

“I can’t believe this, we were charged $300 for the operation two weeks ago and now they are demanding another $15,” a distressed Ambuya Banda said.

She only cooled down after being informed that the hospital would treat her daughter-in-law on a pay later basis.

But she continued to lament the high cost of maternity services in the country, in spite of government’s directive to scrap user fees in public health institutions.

Another elderly woman who had escorted her husband also complained about the prohibitive cost of treatment and the snail pace at the hospital.

“This is definitely not what we went to war for, this is not what was promised at independence, my husband has to undergo dialysis twice every week and just one session costs $100,” she lamented.

The situation currently prevailing makes a mockery of the 2005 quality management programme spearheaded by Parirenyatwa Hospital’s chief executive Thomas Zigora. 

Parirenyatwa Hospital is believed to have in excess of about 5 000 beds and 12 theatres, an annex psychiatric and the Sekuru Kaguvi eye treatment section. 

Harare Hospital is also bogged down with similar problems of staff and equipment shortages.

Just last week, 15 women who had given birth were crammed on the floor at the hospital when the Daily News visited.

All of this is happening at a time when President Robert Mugabe has appointed David Parirenyatwa as the new minister of Health and Child Welfare.

During the swearing in ceremony of Cabinet ministers last week, Mugabe said appointment decisions were based on party loyalty and not necessarily competence.

“The decision was based on how much of Zanu PF are you, how long have you been with us and how educated you are,” he said.

The Zanu PF strongman all but pledged that his new administration would pay close attention to the people oriented programmes which also included eradication of diseases like HIV/Aids.

Parirenyatwa was minister of Health during the cholera epidemic which saw at least 4 000 perish, a tragedy that brought his competence as Health minister into sharp focus. He has never apologised for the 4000 deaths which happened under his leadership of the ministry.

Parirenyatwa also did not score notable milestones in the fight against HIV/Aids which Mugabe said had robbed the country of many men and women.

Parirenyatwa’s appointment comes at a time when public institutions like the hospital named after his father and other public health institutions are facing serious staff and equipment shortages.

Efforts to secure a comment from Parirenyatwa, his deputy Paul Chimedza, permanent secretary Brigadier Gwinji were not fruitful as their mobile phones remained unavailable all day long yesterday.

It now remains to be seen if Parirenyatwa will be able to turn around the fortunes of the hospital.

Comments (26)

ADVICE: Do something for yourself, for your beloved family. Don't waste your time talking politics while others are enjoying their lives with money without talking politics. See how this Zimbabwean poor woman became a millionaire just by buying and selling accident cars. Very interesting. Go to (USED.CO) not dot com, to see the methods and companies she was using to do that (USED.CO) not dot com, it is a very simple idea but a very powerful One, Wake up Africans

Vada - 17 September 2013

This is the role of the media! Please continue writing stories about service delivery in Zimbabwe. Keep it up Daily News.

Nkosi Mambo - 17 September 2013

A relative went to parirenyatwa for a check up and was to have an op and a tube inserted. It was done horribly bad, discharged without even a pain killer prescription or an anti-biotic for the wound, it became sceptic and she went back only to be told the she needs another op which would cost her a whopping 1000 usd she does not have that kind of money so she is home waiting for fate. That is why they go to RSA and Singapore but what about us the poor.

maita - 17 September 2013

A relative went to parirenyatwa for a check up and was to have an op and a tube inserted. It was done horribly bad, discharged without even a pain killer prescription or an anti-biotic for the wound, it became sceptic and she went back only to be told the she needs another op which would cost her a whopping 1000 usd she does not have that kind of money so she is home waiting for fate. That is why they go to RSA and Singapore but what about us the poor.

maita - 17 September 2013

A relative went to parirenyatwa for a check up and was to have an op and a tube inserted. It was done horribly bad, discharged without even a pain killer prescription or an anti-biotic for the wound, it became sceptic and she went back only to be told the she needs another op which would cost her a whopping 1000 usd she does not have that kind of money so she is home waiting for fate. That is why they go to RSA and Singapore but what about us the poor.

maita - 17 September 2013

2

terry bindall - 17 September 2013

It is a shame to think that the biggest hospitals in our country are in such deplorable situations hence mugabe doesn't think of competence as a motive to choose a minister. it waits to be seen if being loyal will serve our nation

atz - 17 September 2013

There is an easy answer from the "rulers". It is all because of SANGISHENZI.

Semhalo - 17 September 2013

sorry kwekweans, we voted a zanu pf mayor not because we dont want our dear President M.R.Tsvangirai but we only wanted to save our jobs from chombo axe. We would like to assure kwekwe residents that MDC-T party is in control of the council as we have the majority.

KWEKWE COUNCILLORS REPRESENTATIVE - 17 September 2013

“This is all in spite of the fact that provision of efficient and affordable health care was a strong rallying issue during the liberation struggle“. “Liberation this”, “liberation that”, “liberation the other” - the reason why Zimbabwe will not get anywhere is because you people are so obsessed by this “liberation” nonsense. Health care was efficient and affordable before black rule. Political parties were not fighting for what you call efficient and affordable health care but were fighting each other for political power only. How can you expect black people to run hospitals better than the whites who introduced health care in the first place? The situation will only get worse because the peole who run these hospitals do not use these hospitals, they go abroad when they are sick or when their relatives are sick - they would not be seen dead in these 5 th rate hospitals of death. That is black rule for you!

Musona - 17 September 2013

Thelma- I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this..it appears people are now going to hospitals to die than get treatment. I hope dr. Parirenyatwa will do his best to put a stop to this rot. Sometimes all that is needed is just attention but the staff at most hospitals are also on some kind of sanction and here begins the sorry tale. I suggest you make a follow up visit after this expose..thanks again.

gutter poet - 17 September 2013

It gets worse. The program that used to afford the elderly free medicine at public hospitals like Parirenyatwa was revoked and these senior citizens have to pay cash. They don't have the money. Many grandmothers are being turned away without treatment. This the curse that is Mugabe and his loyal friends.

connie - 17 September 2013

Good work Daily News, the rot needs to be exposed. We need more of this; without a decent opposition it's the media that should keep the government in check.

Al - 17 September 2013

The worst thing which can happen to anyone in harare is to get sick and require medical attention from Pari or Gomo. The staff there simply dont care. Health should be the biggest priority of govt but for 33 years we have spent the biggest part of our budget on defence yet we have not needed to fight our own war. WE need an accountable govt not a govt of shefus who formulate budgets on personal interests.

magame - 17 September 2013

You got it right this time Daily News highlighting where the nation is faulting and attention is needed. Instead of personality attacks. We need more reports highlighting short comings of these social needs, schools, roads, abuse of office etc. Keep this new focus up

Kambiri - 17 September 2013

The story makes interesting reading, but a part of me can see that it is not really objective. Just as an example the reporter makes reference to the fact that the emergency room is packed. This must suggest that the Hospital was indeed busy, and it would naturally therefore take time for all patients to be seen. Patients are said to have been groaning in pain, this is to be expected surely in an Emergency Room. Shortage of basic equipment? What equipment is the reporter talking about in a place where patients are waiting to be seen by a dr? I have been in the Parirenyatwa Rescus room and they have some of the most modern equipment in this country. They also have at least 3 fixed x-ray units, 4 mobile x-ray units, one of the most modern CT Scanners in the country, several ultra sound scanners etc. In any event the most basic requirements in Casualty are things such as a stethoscope, BP machine, thermometers. are these the items said to be in short supply? In one breath it is said that staff have no sense of urgency while in the other it is suggested that there were 5 patients in the resuscitation room! If indeed this is the case it may explain where the drs and nurses were, because that would have been their priority at the time! Its said that it took 30 min to lift a patient from a taxi that had brought them to Hospital, can this really be blamed on the health staff who, we are told, were resuscitating as many as 5 patients. Oh by the way the reporter also says that those patients who were brought in by private ambulances were attended to expeditiously. I wonder what the rational for this would be!

Tofireyi - 17 September 2013

Parastatals have always been the misssing link in the zanu'rised country

reftr - 17 September 2013

Which party ran this Ministry ????

chokx - 17 September 2013

@VAda, enda unorara kana washaya nyaya, haikona kungohukura

chihuri - 17 September 2013

@Tofireyi Uchazviona paucharwara, kutaura sewakaruma datya

chihuri - 17 September 2013

Good reporting. People should understand that hospitals are extremely busy places but no matter how busy it is, health care staff are entitled to meal breaks! This report seem to suggest otherwise.

dale - 18 September 2013

Good investigative journalism. Well, the nation/government is largely surviving on taxes/customs duty but industry is dead and customs duty mean that by importing something, there is a bigger amount that flew out of the country to buy the product, causing cash/liquidity shortages in the country. Nothing apart from telecomms sector is working! It can only get worse, the stench that used to choke you prior dollarisation is back, and apart from the two hospitals mentioned in the report, Chitungwiza hospital is equally bad, what with the heat inside, and generally people do not bath adequately because there is no water in most suburbs. So the filth in hospitals and the odour from us humans just brings out the worst and most foul air. This is a health hazard and requires the state to do something urgently, at least to operate at half what private institutions do, then improve from there.

Gutsie - 18 September 2013

havangarege kuenda ku break vachisiya vanhu vachifa iko kuine ma sangishenika.

trevor - 18 September 2013

Tofireyi uhazvipindura wega mubvunzo wako paucharwarirwa nehama yako isina mari.It looks like you are well covered and need not care because you can get treatment outside our borders.

chimuti - 18 September 2013

Izvi zvedailynews zvave zvenhamo nhamo. Still appearing senile stories?

Newsman - 19 September 2013

Izvi zvedailynews zvave zvenhamo nhamo. Still appearing senile stories?

Newsman - 19 September 2013

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