Health sector needs attention

HARARE - It is not a secret that our health sector is on the deathbed, doctors are on strike and nurses have also issued a warning that they will follow suit if their working conditions are not improved.

Nothing really seems to be working in the critical sector, a situation that should ring alarm bells on government.

But are we not surprised that — ostrich style — the relevant authorities are burying their heads in the sand as they remain denialists who are not comfortable with embracing the truth.

Apart from being hit by strikes, as personnel demand better working conditions, there is a shortage of drugs in the country’s hospitals and clinics.

The food served in most public hospitals is atrocious to say the least and that there is no running water at a top hospital like Parirenyatwa really defies logic because one would expect a functioning government to resource such an important sector.

Even though we have, times without number shouted ourselves horse about the state of our health sector — from nurses’ strikes, mental health facilities running out of essential drugs, doctors downing tools and institutions like Harare Central Hospital closing certain wings because of lack of resources — our government has not stirred a bit but continues to act as if everything is okay.

People are dying right now because there are no doctors, our hospitals are operating without basic painkillers and this can be traced to government, which is culpable because it is failing to meet the demands of nurses and doctors and also adequately fund the crucial sector.

While the well-heeled often have it all at the snap of a finger — the ordinary person is suffering because the affordable public health sector is currently in doldrums as government has frozen posts for nurses in whom it invested heavily during training.

While the country’s leadership, especially

those in the ruling party Zanu PF, have the wherewithal to fly to foreign lands whenever sick, the rank and file they govern are stuck with drugless hospitals.

The standard nurse to patient ratio is one to four; but in Zimbabwe, one nurse attends to over 15 patients, which is a conservative statistic.

Apart from that, the country is almost entirely dependent on donors as the broke government abandons its role while it commits more resources to the military and State security.

As unpleasant as the statistics are, this does not mean 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 misguided priorities.

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