Hospital crisis far from over

HARARE - The drugs crisis that has ravaged State hospitals is far from over after government said it will take between four to six months to acquire the urgently needed medicines.

This comes as the hard-pressed Zimbabwe government is struggling to adequately fund public hospitals, forcing some of the institutions to suspend critical medical procedures.

Health ministry permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji told the Daily News that the processes involved in purchasing the critically needed drugs — using the $3,5 million allocated by Treasury last month — were causing the delay.

“We were given Treasury Bills (TBs) which are not instant cash and even if you got them there is a process of tendering them to get a supplier who would then order and then you get your supply,” he said on the side-lines of the Results-Based Financing Global workshop opening ceremony on Monday.

“So from the time you get that whether it’s cash or it’s a TB, it may take anything from four months to six months for you to get the product that you are talking about, especially noting that we don’t manufacture these things, they are manufactured in... India, South Africa, Europe and so forth,” Gwinji said.

“It does take a while to bring in the product (drugs). However,  institutions have been managing with the budget releases that we have been getting as well as resources that they raise from their own institutions, in the form of user fees where these are appropriate.”

The drugs shortage recently saw Harare Central Hospital suspending elective surgeries.

An elective procedure is one that is planned in advance, rather than one that is done in an emergency situation.

“At Harare (Central)Hospital it was really more of an administrative glitch in terms of putting together the resources and getting the essential medicines that were mentioned that are pertinent for theatre and post-operative care. But by Friday, those medicines were already flowing in. It’s unfortunate that the inter-departmental memo then portrayed a very dire situation,” Gwinji said. 

“Yes, we have shortages. That we cannot run away from, but we will always prioritise critical medicines that go into surgery. The announcement so to speak was made that we will not be doing certain types of surgery, it was really a strategic move to say we will not be doing elective surgery,” he said.

“We always try to speed up the process (of acquiring drugs) but we need the funding to do that, as I said, it’s a matter of reprioritisation, putting aside elective cases and going only for the emergency ones rather than using everything until it is completely finished and then you can’t even attend to the emergencies,” Gwinji said.

In another instance, Ingutsheni mental health institution recently turned into chaos, as patients ran amok after the hospital ran out of tranquillising drugs.

Under the 2016 National Budget, hospitals were allocated $11,7 million out of a total $330,7 million set aside for the health sector, translating to three percent which is barely enough to cover basic operations.

Comments (1)

This photo was taken in 1981 We need a recent one please

Slim Cat - 21 September 2016

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.