…As Health Crisis Deepens
…Foreign Supplies Reject Zim USD Payments
HEALTH and Child Care Minister, Dr Obadiah Moyo has cracked his whip on Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals management for failing to arrest the prevailing drugs and sundries crisis at the institution which has forced senior doctors to withdraw their services until the situation has normalised.
By Michael Gwarisa
The decline in health services at Parirenyatwa hospital has forced medical doctors to attend to emergency surgeries only, leaving millions of health seekers stranded. The management team at Parirenyatwa which is headed by the Chief Executive officer (CEO), Mr Thomas Zigora has however blamed lack of foreign currency as the reason behind the current decay in services at the institution.
Minister Moyo however had no kind words for the management which he accused of not being innovative enough to maneuver around the challenges.
“Really, I am not supposed to be micro managing these issues, we must have managers and administrators who are capable. I also find myself being frustrated sometime because I have to end up doing management work because of lake of support.
“Yes there may be issues of sanctions and foreign currency issues but there must be ways of managing these issues. I have said I want a healthcare team who are well supported and this is why i then decided that we have a forum where we can meet. When i was CEO of Chitungwiza Hospital, I could hear everything everyday and I would act swiftly, i like the same to happen here.
“If we feel like we have to change management, we will do it, we do not want to relax and sleep on the job, we have to perform. I was telling the Health Services board (HSB) that we need those performance appraisals. We might have sanctions and foreign currency issues but we need to be innovative and get around these challenges,” said Dr Moyo.
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals Chief Executive Officer, Mr Zigora said it was difficult for Zimbabwe to make any procurement and purchase of medical supplies and sundries outside Zimbabwe as suppliers are rejecting money from Zimbabwe be it USD or not.
“We have secured the foreign currency but sending it outside has become a challenge. We secured foreign currency to send to a German company three months ago but this money has been returned to us. We have sent money to Phillips a few months for the supply of mobile X RAY, six months ago we secured the forex and paid through our banks but that money has come back.
“Only yesterday I got a communication from CBZ we had sent a request to them to pay US$50 000 to Pariah but the information we got from the bank yesterday was that as long it’s a USD transaction you are unable to process the transaction,” said Mr Zigora.
He added that he took time to share with the consultants the initiatives that the management has taken to address their concerns.
“There were specific issues which they raised with respect to surgical supplies, syringes and surgical gloves. We have now secured a few weeks supply of the required syringes and gloves and these will be made available to hospitals. There is list medicines which are required. I indicated to the consultants that we had already secured and paid for the supply these.”
Meanwhile, the situation at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals (PGH) has deteriorated beyond comprehension with evidence on the ground showing that the institution has recorded several fatalities in the maternity, burns, cancer and emergency wards over the past few months.
When HealthTimes visited the institution on the side-lines of the ongoing industrial action by senior doctors and consultants, hundreds of desperate patients were waiting in the waiting bays amidst indications that some had travelled from places as far as Masvingo, Kotwa among others only to be told to return home as doctors were only attending to emergency cases.
Senior doctors and consultants concurred that the situation at Parirenyatwa was no longer tenable and they vowed not resume normal work until the plea to address the equipment, drug and sundries issue has been resolved.
According to consultants, nurses in the burns wards are now forced to recycle and wash bandages for reuse owing to shortages of bandages, a situation which has seen patients succumbing to various infections while many fatalities have occurred as a result.
Dr Faith Muchemwa a plastic surgeon with Parirenyatwa Hospitals said a number of patients have died over the past few months from infections arising from burns and lack of sundries.
“There are no bandages in the burns wards, nurses are now washing bandages, those that would have even used before, just to ensure they cover the burns. However, a number of infections are being recorded from since these bandages won’t be that clean and at times there is no detergents to wash the bandages.
“A number of casualties have been recorded in the burns wards as a result of the infections,” said Dr Muchemwa.
The Mbuya Nehanda Paediatric Ward has also not been spared the demise amidst reports that the facility has of late been delivering an increased number of still births and maternal deaths owing to the absence of electricity and other sundries in the wards.
Paediatrician, Dr Azza Mashuba said it was shocking that authorities are actually prioritising painting of the Mbuya Nehnda Ward yet the facility has been running without electricity since the day of the second of February following an inferno which gutted down part of the wards.
“We come here to the main theatre and we already to receive a baby but we a getting still births, there is no sense of urgency when it comes to resolving the issues at this institution.
“We are trying so hard, we are trying to come up with a contingency plan but everything that we are trying is not materialising. Meanwhile, these babies are dying and we are being told there is the tender process to follow. This tender process is costing lives, there is no urgency, there is no priority and nobody is listening to us.
“I have knocked on a thousand doors but my output are still births, my output are babies with disabilities,” she said.
Surgeon Dr Matthew Wazara said the doctors were not on strike but they simply cannot work under the current conditions where there is no water, electricity, basic sundries amongst other supplies.
“We are not on strike, it is our desire to strike, we only can’t work under the current conditions, there is no water there is no soap sometimes to disinfect our hands during surgery. We are saying could we cut our cloth according to the material that we have.
“We only here that supplies are only two weeks strong now, so let’s put our heads together and say what can we do with what we have, things are bad and for me it is just very difficult to proceed under the current situation,” said Dr Wazara.