Hospitals run out of drugs

HARARE - State hospitals have run out of vital medicines, with the institutions prescribing even basic drugs for purchase at private pharmacies.

This comes as morale has reportedly hit rock-bottom among health staff.

The crisis has particularly hit hard persons under-five and those over 65 years of age who, according to government policy, should be exempt from user fees.

Under the current dire circumstances, both age groups have been forced to purchase drugs at private pharmacies.

So grave is the situation that at some State hospitals, enterprising private pharmacies have set up shop inside the institutions to retail their merchandise.

The cash-strapped government is dismally failing to bankroll the crucial health sector amid a deepening liquidity crunch.

When the Daily News crew visited Harare Central and Parirenyatwa hospitals yesterday, the situation was desperate.

Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) organising secretary Chipfurutse Mugove said it was frustrating to work without critical drugs.

“We do not have drugs, syringes and even bandages,” Mugove told the Daily News.

“We are supposed to do our jobs ethically but we do not have drugs and sometimes we send people home. Everything must be available for us to execute our jobs, but now we are now forced to improvise. But how can we improvise when we are dealing with human beings? We cannot reverse deaths. Hopefully, we will find drugs in order to save lives.”

Mugove said they were not carrying out their responsibilities as they were supposed to.

“The fact that there are no drugs even affects us psychologically,” Mugove said. “It is hard to stand by and watch patients suffering with minor ailments.”

Paul Chimedza, the deputy minister of Health and Child Care, recently revealed that although government was aware that there are shortages of medicines in hospitals, it had no cash to address the crisis.

“The ministry is aware that there is shortage of medication and the government does not have the resources,” Chimedza said.

“We get most of our medication from NatPharm (National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe) and at the moment NatPharm does not have the capacity to buy medicines in bulk.”

The health sector has remained stuck in a time warp as donor-funded drugs have dried up and service delivery continues to fall due to understaffing and poor remuneration.

Deaths at childbirth have climbed up from 283 per 100 000 live births in 1984 to 540 per 100 000 live births currently.

Only a decade ago, Zimbabwe’s public health system was ranked among the best in sub-Saharan Africa. But like the rest of Zimbabwe’s economic and social fabric during a decade-long socio-economic crisis, the health delivery system has alarmingly deteriorated.

As hospitals struggle with funding, patients have also not been spared the crisis, with many failing to settle the bills.

Cash-strapped hospitals have since roped in debt collectors to follow up on outstanding arrears or detain patients who fail to pay. Some of the debt collectors even advertise at the major hospitals.

Morale among nurses, who are paid miserly wages, remains low and there is a sense of resignation among the health staff, with many seeking greener pastures abroad.

In spite of the challenges, bankrupt Zimbabweans have to make do with what is available and often dread to visit State hospitals because of the deepening shortage of drugs.

Comments (8)

Mugabe wauraya kani! Tenda mhani kuti waparadza nyika urove road kwaZvimba uko. Taneta newe isu. Smith aiva neutsinye politically, but hwako hwanyanya uhwu esp to fellow blacks hunobata all sectors politics unouraya vanhu, socially vanhu vafa nezhara, economically..ah hatitauri ....tongodya nhoko dzezvirnda iwe uri Singapore!

Tonyo - 24 July 2014

Dear God, what sort of punishment has befallen the daughters and sons of Zimbabwe, we got a leader who is as good as satan, some have gone to other contries to seek for better jobs, but their suffering is still far from ending. We have sinned against you the Might Lord. Dai Zvaibvira matitorera mutungamiriri we Zimbabwe R G Mugabe, forgive us, have mercy upon our land, innocent blood have been shed, chirikadzi ne nherera hadzisisina tariro. Tinzweiwo Jehova wehondo

New Zimbabwe - 24 July 2014

The last time hospitals had drugs, our own nurses and doctors were busy, Telling patients that there are no drugs, but if you want I can get it for a fee.......

marvy - 25 July 2014

Are you having problems with your borehole or dreaming to have one. try us for your installations, repairs, faulty diagnosis, maintenance and pump sales. email.

wyyy - 25 July 2014

todii vehama. health is essential drugs should be available no matter what .

tofa - 25 July 2014

Its really disheartening when Paul Chimedza admits there is no money for essentials such as medicines. this is against the recent acquisition of top-of-the-range cars for Public Service commissioners, Mugabe's birtday bash, Bona's wedding, Harare Festival, etc etc. Honestly, where are our priorities? What is it that is in us? Is is true that God cursed the black race?

Johno - 25 July 2014

Free health services reduced the respect previously given to hospitals. Hospital CEOs freely stole the essential drugs knowing that CORRUPTION was & still is the in thing in Zimbabwe.No one will ever go to jail or lose their job for inefficiency.That's the ZANU way of doing business.

nyonganiso - 25 July 2014

And we have MPs and HCC entranged in buying luxury cars. Plz G od help us

lee moyo - 26 July 2014

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