Health horror: Part 2

HARARE - Harare Central Hospital, also known as KuGomo because of its location in a rugged terrain of Southerton suburb in Harare, is one of the biggest referral hospitals in the country but is dismally failing to deliver on its mandate.

The hospital, which houses the School of Nursing, also boasts having the largest maternity referral ward in the country but is plagued by severe shortages of equipment and supplies.

The maternity wing has in excess of 180 beds and caters for about 1 200 deliveries per month and 505 pre-natal visits per month.

But the hospital is failing to cope with the number of expecting mothers who present themselves at the institution.

Last week, 15 mothers who had just given birth were crowded in one small room on the floor, exposing their newborn babies to risks of contracting communicable diseases.

This unfortunate situation however, is replicated in the other wards at the hospital. But what is really worrying is the appalling attitude of staff.

Patients, especially those in ward C4, are treated in the most despicable manner by people who have taken the Hippocratic oath, according to patients.

A senior citizen who was admitted at the ward recently said the behaviour of the nursing staff left a lot to be desired.

“The nurses there operate like Satanists,” fumed the patient, who declined to be named fearing victimisation.

“They are not interested in seeing patients regain their health. They go around stealing patients’ medicines and things like drips and food which their relatives would have acquired for them.”

She narrated how patients suffered victimisation when they asked for their medicine and food stuffs.

She blamed the hospital’s executive for what is happening at Harare hospital, saying they never moved around to inspect whether patients were being fed and treated with dignity.

“During the days when Ushewokunze (the late Herbert) was still minister of Health, he used to move around even to the extent of visiting at night to ensure that people were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing,” she recalled.

“I think we need that kind of leadership now especially considering the fact that the people who are now working in hospitals are just mercenaries.”

Rumbidzai Moyo, who was admitted in the female ward, said she survived her four-day admission by the grace of God.

Moyo, who was admitted during the winter period, said patients were only given two thin blankets.

“The windows in the wards are never closed and during the night some of the patients would start crying, saying they were cold but the nurses on duty would just ignore them,” she said.

“One night, an elderly woman who was next to me but the nurses did not even notice because they were busy watching TV.

“A woman in my ward who was also diabetic, fell from her bed and spent at least an hour on the floor in broad daylight while the nurses went about their personal business. I was really stressed because I was too weak to help her.”

Patients who spoke to the Daily News said the hospital did not even provide warm bathing water for their patients.

“They come at 5am and ask us to take a bath in cold water when it is still very cold but we have some patients who have water heaters, those are the lucky ones,” another patient who preferred anonymity said.

In the paediatric ward, the situation is pretty much the same; parents of children admitted in the ward have to bring their own heaters in order to keep their children warm.

“My child was born prematurely,” said a woman who only identified herself as Kudzai. I brought her here after she fell sick. At night, I have to wrap her up and sit with her near the heater so that she does not feel cold.” Yesterday, the Daily News was inundated with calls from readers who had been treated unfairly at Harare Central and Parirenyatwa hospitals.

A certain Georgina said she took her mother to Parirenyatwa Hospital for treatment after she had been involved in an accident and had to wait from 8am to 8pm before being attended to.

“We were also made to pay despite the fact that she is 75 and eligible for free medication in terms of government policy,” she said.

“We were also made to pay $100 for X-rays as well as all the materials used for plaster casting.”

Georgina added: “What really pains me is that we are heavily taxed and it is only fair that these taxes be used to run social service programmes that alleviate suffering of the elderly and other disadvantaged communities.”

A man who only identified himself as Paradza, a member of the Vapostori sect, accused some doctors at Harare hospital of being reluctant to treat patients, preferring to do so at their private surgeries.

“I take a good number of members from my church to the hospital when they fall ill, and I have noticed that most doctors especially those who have their own private practices do not want to treat people at public hospitals,” he said.

“So many of them have approached me to go with the people I would have escorted to their private surgery for more efficient service.”

Another caller who preferred anonymity said when he took his sick sister to Harare hospital, the doctor who examined her was very upset when he realised she was on medical aid.

“He asked us to go to Avenues Clinic but my sister insisted that she wanted to be treated there because they had good doctors, the attending physician said he would be able to attend to her at the private hospital,” he said.

Molline also called and narrated a heart-rending story of how she lost her brother after the same hospital delayed his treatment.

She said her brother, who died on July 31, had been visiting Harare hospital for three weeks after he tested positive for HIV but failed to receive treatment early.

“By the time they decided to admit him, he had become too weak and he died on the night he was admitted. What pained us the most is that he died at 12 midnight but the hospital authorities never bothered to inform us of the development.

“We only discovered that he was dead after we had gone for the 1pm visit. When we got there, the staff did not even have the courtesy of informing us that he was dead, we instead roamed around the ward looking for him only to be  told by a patient that he had died,” she said.

A Mutare man also complained about the negligence of staff at Harare hospital which, he said, cost the life of his 19-year-old brother.

We also received a call from a doctor who works at one of the public health institution who said the raw deal patients were getting was a direct result of mismanagement by the top hierarchy.

“At Parirenyatwa, we have executives who have no medical background spearheading programmes and as a result output is always poor,” the medical doctor told the Daily News.

“All these executives do is enrich themselves at the expense of the institution. I understand that the budget allocated is very low, but I feel that a huge chunk of the money that is used in financing their hefty salaries and fancy cars should be channelled towards the procurement of equipment for the hospital.

“Right now I am serving my housemanship but I am not satisfied because I am not working in a fully functional hospital which is well equipped. How am I then expected to become a very competent doctor in such an environment?”

Tomorrow we look at the hospitals in Chitungwiza, Bulawayo, Masvingo and Mutare. Don’t miss your copy of the Daily News as we continue to expose this health scandal.

Comments (28)

This is very sad really. The biggest problem is that the directors are kept on their positions even they are not performing at all like what is happening to ZNFPC another health institution. The administration of Dr. Murwira (Executive Director) & J. Chigweremba (Director Admin & Finance) have criplled the once thriving parastatal. All professionals at ZNFPC have left the organisation. The minister of Health Dr. D. Parirenyaywa should immediately rush to save the institution. For more information visit the staff and ask. 99% said they want to leave accoeding to a survey which done by another doctor last year.

M. Mandizvo - 18 September 2013

Its now health for those who can afford. "Health for all" will be a dream brother. They are busy buying Ford Rangers for Chinotimbas when people die daily in hospitals. How much is a ford ranger multiplied by the number of MPS in Zimbabwe. If all this money could be used to purchase drugs and equipment we could save life for certain.

Range - 18 September 2013

Zimbabweans are indeed a unique breed. You have a country whose economy is not performing well, if at all, a lot of industries have closed and those that remain are operating at less than 40% capacity, an unemployment level in the region of 85% plus, if you discount the informal sector, a whole country which at one point only had $270 in the bank, and a reporter who believes that Zimbabwe has a hospital with a bed capacity of 5000! The above notwithstanding you have a people, said to be highly literate, who expect a first world standard and when then they don't get it attack the few health workers who have remained behind in the service of their people! Nurses, Pharmacists, radiographers who have been trained are roaming the streets because they cannot be absorbed, apparently because the fiscus has no money to pay their wages, even though we all know that those currently working in the institutions are overworked and underpaid! Cry the beloved country! I hope someone somewhere, will one day have the courage to tell people why our social services are in the state they are, (and it certainly is not because of the people who work there rather its in spite of) and depending on how sincere they are, to ask for time to address the many challenges being faced by both patients and the health workers.

Chinogura - 18 September 2013

M. Mandizvo...its true ZNFPC has gone down the tubes...all the director does is go on country visits to Uganda whilst the parastatal cannot even top up its salaries grant.The parastatal is operating with a depleted fleet of vehicles,aging clinical equipment and lack of funding due to mismanagement by a top heavy organization

Mapirisi - 18 September 2013

this is the type of journalism we have be waiting for, exposing the essential elements of human suffering by the generality of our people! good piece so was yesterday's. visit the morgues and see the way bodies are piled and just tell us how many people are dying per day due to this neglect?

manqoba mamamela - 18 September 2013

This is vintage journalism..why have we not been seeing this??? Can you also do an expose on the private pension industry, it dovetails with the health sector as most of the people being given a raw deal by these greedy thieves are the elderly who spent the greater part of their working lives putting up high rise buildings managed by these criminal pensioner executioners (sorry executives)>...This is a rich mine for information.

gutter poet - 18 September 2013

And yet we have ZANU(PF) paying $10m to NIKUV to fix elections when hospitals are so desperate for that money. Shame Matibili and mafia JOC

Chipoto - 18 September 2013

Well done M. Mandizvo we were waiting for people with your courage to expose the thieves and oppressors in ZNFPC its high time these cruel thieves leave the parastatal for the betterment of ZNFPC and its staff and the national at large. Only the big fish are benefiting

Mubereki - 18 September 2013

It is only in Zimbabwe where people are appointed to Ministerial Posts as reward for incompetence, callousness and evil. For Mugabe to appoint David to the helm of the MoHCW after the way he bungled up with cholera outbreak needs one who has a heart as cold as a stone. It is a question of time. It is disaster waiting to happen.If Harare and Pari have been like this and can you imagine what it is like in the rural areas. Pari a teaching hospital does not have water and one wonders where we are heading. To have such a bloated cabinet when mothers are dying from giving birth and babies of curable ailments is a shocker I tell you. These men and women in ZANU-PF SHIT LUCIFER have sold their souls to the devil and even it means killing all Zimbabweans by whatever means necessary they will do it. In Zimbabwe poverty now is a crime hence they do not care about public health institutions where the majority of the poor seek treatment. Ivo and their kith and keen travel to SA and Singapore for medical care so they see absolutely no need to stock hospitals with basic equipment, drugs and pay the staff well. While I do not condone the negative attitudes of some of the health professionals working in an environment where everything is virtually out of stock can also be demotivating for them. Even if they were to break their legs running to attend to emergencies when resuscitation equipment and drugs are out of stock how would that help. What sort of pockets does this evil regime have that does not fill up. They have been looting with impunity for the past 33 years but still he pockets are not yet full. The crisis in Zimbabwe and our health institutions need God's intervention. another cholera outbreak is impending. Dirt is everywhere and water is not being treated.They do not care because they have boreholes and can afford bottled water.

vongai - 18 September 2013

Why all this noise now ? Is it becoz there is a new minister who by right should blame his predecessor for the mess

chokx - 18 September 2013

All other sectors of the economy have dwcayed and are suffering similar problems but the health profession requires people who are willing to be of service despite difficult working conditions. Those who are unwilling to endure should leave so that the gaps are noticeable. People should not bcome doctors simply bcoz they believe there is a lot of money to be made. We can stand poor service from anywhere else except hospitals. A visit to Gomo and Pari is a real nightmare. The national budget should prioritise health and those who work in the sector should be people who are naturally good hearted not mercenaries. Hanzi ndatadza zvandaida kuita saka ndavakuenda kunursing.

magame - 18 September 2013

chikonzero ndiyo zimbabwe yacho yatigarisa munyika dzevamwe... ndiyani asingade kumba

zvakwana - 18 September 2013

thts indiginisation fo 4 kikikii

aaron - 18 September 2013

media houses who claim to have a wider readership spend the greater part of the year following up on people 's love affair whilst turning a blind eye on such issues. they devote most of their ink on printing urban gossips and love life of some individuals so that they can gain political mileage and deliberately 'forgetting' to cover such important issues of our social lives. when election time is around the corner, they usual find some few cheap blankets for donations and free bottled water, and call their media to cover the 'event'. resources are all there, but its just a matter of priorities. what comes first, the +26 state of the art Mercedes benz and +230 ford rangers or just 3 decent meals + clean water + warm blankets for the sick and disadvantaged. Its all about choices. You know, some of the powerful seats we sit everyday, our being there does not mean we are wise, tough and smart, God allowed us to be there for a PURPOSE. WE ARE VESSELS and He is the POTTER. always remember that.

the mole - 19 September 2013

whilst it is good for u to go around highlighting the plight of the people and massive challenges at our hospitals i think this is a very complex issue,.i personally think the problem lies with the gvt ;the media and zimbabweans as a.the gvt and media promise free health which they cant sponsor ;the madia encourages pple to believe and demand free health; the pple thinks thats possible ;in reality nothing is for free someone somewhere has to pay, as a follow up to these articles i hope u will do a research on health funding and how it works;highlight a model that is suitable for our society;it is a fallacy to believe gvt can offer free health funding ,its impossible,if 85% of ppltion is not formerly employed it means 15% has to pay for them ;how do u explain a woman who decides to pregnant for 9months and fails to raise 50 dollars user fee in 9months then goes on to have 5 kids under similar conditions? or 75yr old with a pig farm or company demanding free health?or a man who drinks daily and is not on medical aid( cheapest 3dollars amonth) overally the responsibility is with u me the gvt the media the pple.it is the responsibilty of gvt to help but not give,the media should educate the pple ,tell them abt alternative funding not encourage to expect free health (cheap always not cheap)lastly it is the responsibility of the individual to plan;we all dream of buying car ,plan to build houses;save to go to school;marry have kids ;but how many plan for a day of ill health,why is it compulsory to pay car insurance;radio and tv licence,alcohol tax but not health insurance;

munya - 19 September 2013

Thanx Munya for the Sobber minded comment. Nothing is ever for free..dont even blame the government , Zimbos - we are the most selfish of all nations...if we dont like wat the government is doing why not act, nothing cmes for free even freedom..Jesus had to die for us to be free, we had the liberation struggle to be free of the white man and yet u think we gonna have a free (free of corrupt officials and parties - both ZANU and MDC)..without a bloody struggle...God will not come down from Heaven and free you...Abraham had to leave his hmeland to a promised land, God ddnt just pluck him out and hand deliver him to Canaan..fight for wat is right...and then ur children will have a future otherwise...wat will we tell our children wen they ask us "mommy, daddy - were where u wen all this happened"

Anonymous - 19 September 2013

Thanx the hospitals have been infiltrated by nurses with satanic spirits and and killing patients.At my church during healing and deliverance so many manifestations confirm operating in maternity wards killing new born babies.Also nurses are busy loitering and ignoring patients.my brother who was on ARVS died when nurses failed to give him his pills during the pill taking time.everyday i would count the pills and when i asked i was told we are taking care of that (chabvondika)

dominic chisayira - 19 September 2013

I see in part 3 of this supposed "exposé" there is talk of an institution which is perceived to be a model hospital, really? There really is an institution in the public sector in zimbabwe which has access to all the required resources, in the form of equipment and manpower? Just goes to show how "objective" the reporter is. You go into 2 major hospitals, one of which you claim has 5000 beds, visit just the Casualty department, ( which by nature is the busiest) and you form an opinion about the whole hospital. Then you proceed to make a comparison with an institution that is "central Hospital" in name only, probably has 150 beds. PPPs! My foot! Maybe the State Procurement Board could examine these PPPs and assure us that the arrangements are procedural and whether they really do provide value for money. I also note that a comment was solicited from the man heading the institution. Was this privilege accorded to the Heads of other Hospitals? Please Mr Editor protect your Newspaper lest it be used to promote other agendas at the expense of the good work that you usually do in highlighting issues of concern to Society!

Mberi - 19 September 2013

Tiri pa tight. If Only the ministers and the Directors of Hospitals invloved cared for the people and take the reality as articulated in this newspaper article seriously.

upenyu - 19 September 2013

Thanks to bla Obadiah , Chitungwiza yakudadisa

sam - 19 September 2013

something must be done even by the gvt itself to stop this rubbish at our main health institutions

elimond - 20 September 2013

It has just occurred to me that almost all comments are coming from persons who either endured what they considered to be bad treatment from our Hospitals or those whose views have been colored by the reporter's perception. It would be useful if those who appreciated the care received, in spite of the many challenges being faced by the Hospitals, could also comment. It surely isn't all bad? As the saying goes, all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing!

Mberi - 20 September 2013

we will indiginise hospitals kikkkkkkkkk

savoiur kasukuwere - 20 September 2013

It's shocking to report and believe that Parirenyatwa has 5000 beds(that is close to the total hospital beds for the whole country!!).Problem is,Zimbabwe suffered catastrophic loss of its Middle class(ie trained,experienced and Professionals in all sectors,including journalists) to other countries(whatever the reasons).THESE are the peaple who make things work(and pay bulk of the taxes) in this word......There in lies cause and solution.

Lizwe - 20 September 2013

Thank you Lizwe for your very sober observation. That the reporter, who only talked about the Casualty, where around 300 patients are seen over a 24 hour period, then extrapolated her findings to create an impression that what obtained in the Casualty area also applied to patients admitted to what she believes is a 5000 bedded hospital beggars belief! That not many of us could immediately notice that this was a gross exaggeration, as indeed were some of her conclusions, is a serious indictment of our society. Only too happy to believe the worst of each other. Isn't it also surprising that when she went back to Harare Hospital, less than 24 hours later, she was able to report that everything was working like clock work. Is it really possible that the shortage of resources and equipment had miraculously been addressed over night. To her credit though in one of her reports she does point out that patients taken to Parirenyatwa by private ambulances were being attended to quickly, and that there were 5 patients in the resuscitation room, which must mean that they needed to be prioritized. This is presumably where the doctors and nurses were as anyone who knows just a little about the workings of a Hospital would appreciate. The report did achieve something though, the Minister is now talking about having the freeze lifted as well as pushing for Finance to release the outstanding budgetary allocations. For this the reporter should be commended!

Mberi - 20 September 2013

There are so many contributing factors that most people have failed to note. Hospitals are in a better condition right now. revert your mind back to 2007-8 situation.

jerenyenje - 21 September 2013

jerenyenje................. belelieve you , me, the present situation will soon go back to the 2005-2008 one

susan masangomai - 22 September 2013

This Mandizvo M.T must not been taken seriously. Since she was errorneously appointed the Provincial Manager of ZIMBABWE NATIONAL FAMILY PLANNING COUNCIL IN MANICALAND, she was involved in a number of dubious activities. All the vehicles she inherited are now grounded because of her unethical behiour with her side kick fish. mukadzi uyu imbavha zvaanoziva to the born and i wonder kuti ndimai mufundisi rudzii anoita mabire akadai hameno kuti ndizvo zvinodzidziswa kuDUTCH kwaanopinda here. ndiko kunonzi kusekana kwana kamba. My Little sister has shallow brians. wake up and smell the coffee. The whole problems affecting the country are at a macro level not micro level. thats is the problem of recruiting technical people in administration positions. Uyu mupengo takanzwa kuti akabuda basa ichokwadi haangagari pabasa nehunhu hweumbavha hwaanoita

mercy tsitsidzashe - 23 September 2013

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