Address health sector problems

HARARE - Recent reports that Harare Central Hospital — one of the country’s oldest and biggest public health institutions — has run out of some of the most basic drugs, ostensibly due to under-funding are at the least worrying.

Media reports indicate that the Harare national referral centre had to suspend elective surgeries because of the critical shortages of drugs such as pethidine and injectable morphine.

This is indeed disturbing and spells disaster for a country whose majority is dependent on public hospitals.

It goes without saying that prices at private hospitals, which usually have the drugs, are far beyond the reach of ordinary Zimbabweans who have to make do with the ill-equipped public health facilities.

The situation must be remedied soon to avoid unnecessary loss of lives due to drug shortages.

Our government has for long shown its disinterest for the crucial sector as it fails to address health workers’ salary concerns, and usually the budget allocation is inadequate to meet demand.

In previous national budgets — allocations to critical sectors such as health have been dwindling while the President’s Office has been receiving a proportionally larger chunk that is at most shocking and unjustifiable.

We hope to bring to the attention of the country’s leadership, especially those in the ruling party Zanu PF, that while they have the wherewithal to fly to foreign lands whenever sick, the rank and file that they govern are stuck with drugless hospitals.

While the standard nurse-to-patient ratio is one nurse for every four patients, in Zimbabwe one nurse attends to over 15 patients and that is a conservative estimate.

Apart from that, the country is almost entirely dependent on donors as the broke and broken government abandons its role.

As unpleasant as the statistics are, this does not mean that the country is too poor to fund the critical sector but only points to the fact that the rulers are out of touch with reality and have skewed priorities.

We say so because if one was to zero in on Mugabe’s endless foreign trips — the money blown on such hopeless travel jaunts is staggering and could go a long way in addressing drug shortages.

If as a country we address corruption, which is the real elephant in the room, then our script could not be so depressing.

However, we are a country that is being led by self-seeking politicians who are fond of the exotic and turn a blind eye on the needs of those they govern.


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