Binga Hospital cuts services

HARARE - In the latest crisis to hit the country’s dying health sector, Binga District Hospital is scaling back its services as a result of worsening water and electricity shortages, leaving many patients stranded in one of Zimbabwe’s poorest regions.

Acting district medical officer, Nyashadzashe Chasauka, said they would now only attend to emergency and maternity cases, while full services would only resume once the situation had improved.

“Due to the unavailability of water and electricity, the hospital will with immediate effect attend to emergency cases and maternity cases only.

“Currently, the hospital has no capacity to supply all the wards, kitchen, laundry and other departments with alternative potable water for general use in the hospital.

“As a result, the situation exposes both staff and patients to health hazards. Normal operations will resume after the hospital gets reliable and constant water supply,” Chasauka said in a letter dated November 3.

Efforts by the Daily News yesterday to get a comment from either Health minister David Parirenyatwa or the ministry’s permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji were unsuccessful.

As Zimbabwe’s political and economic rot has escalated over the past 15 years, the health sector has experienced myriad problems which include poor funding and severe shortages of drugs.

In the last three months alone, the country’s major referral hospitals have had to suspend many services as a result of the shortage of drugs, including painkillers — exposing how much things have fallen apart in the country since the early 2000s.

United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) and Harare Central Hospital are among the major health facilities that have had to suspend normal services as result of drug shortages, including pethidine — a synthetic compound used as a painkiller, especially for women in labour and during caesarean section operations.

Among many other challenges, Zimbabwe is currently reeling from an acute shortage of cash and foreign currency, which has affected operations at the country’s major referral hospitals who rely on drug imports following the closure of local pharmaceutical giant CAPS Holdings.

The partial closure of Binga Hospital comes as the country is also experiencing severe water shortages due to a toxic combination of an El Nino-induced drought and dilapidated water infrastructure caused by the government’s incompetence.

Water levels in the country’s major dams have receded to precarious levels across Zimbabwe, with the country’s largest dam, Kariba, said to be at a catastrophic nine percent of its capacity.

At the same time, panicking local authorities have introduced water rationing, with Harare City Council mulling a full-scale roll-out of water inflow limiters by March 2017, as a desperate measure to compel residents to conserve the scarce resource.

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