'So many people dying': Horror tales from Zimbabwe's hospitals

2017-02-17 06:13


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Harare - A Zimbabwean mother who's just given birth to a baby at 24 weeks is told there are no incubators.

A family desperately tries to club together to ensure better medical care for their grandmother who's suffered a stroke - but even then it takes an "excruciating" number of days before a doctor sees her.

As medical authorities in Harare tried to force striking hospital doctors back to work on Thursday, a number of Zimbabweans have shared their horror stories of  treatment - mostly the lack of it - on Facebook.

"There are so many people dying before their time because of our crumbling health system," wrote the mother who had to watch her tiny baby being held by a nurse in an incubator-less ambulance as they're transferred to a bigger hospital, only to find on arrival that there are no feeding tubes for him. (He died).

The stories are being shared with the hashtag #FixOurHealthSystem by Fadzayi Mahere, the lawyer and University of Zimbabwe lecturer who's become one of the most visible faces of the #ThisFlag movement started by protest pastor Evan Mawarire in 2016.

One Zimbabwean writes in to share how her sister, a trainee nurse at Chitungwiza General Hospital, works without gloves. Another details the way that the children of a woman were given her cut-out tumour to take for testing themselves "because the person who carried such material didn't have fuel." 

Better on-call allowance 

Of course, there's no way of verifying each individual story: writers have posted anonymously for fear of victimisation.

But some commenters are sharing their own experiences under each story, proving these tragic tales are by no means unique.

"Same thing happened to me 2 years back. Unfortunately for me it spent 48 hrs on the patient's bed because I didn't have cash for the test," wrote Andrew Mbizo of the tumour story.

"For as long as our leaders do not use the same health facilities with ordinary citizens we will have problems they will never appreciate let alone know how it feels to stand in a [queue] with a patient or cry for help to a helpless nurse or doctor," wrote Lovely Tinashe Msara. President Robert Mugabe and his family have previously sought medical treatment in Singapore.

On Thursday the Zimbabwe Medical Association said it was "facilitating dialogue" between the authorities and hospital doctors after Noah Madziva, the clinical director at Harare's Parirenyatwa Hospital, said doctors who didn't report for duty by 9 am would not be paid and would have to re-apply to be admitted back on shift.

Besides Parirenyatwa, Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo was reported to have been badly affected by the strike, with 31 doctors there downing tools on Wednesday, the Chronicle reported.

The doctors want a better on-call allowance (up from the $1.20 per hour it's currently reported to be) and permission to import cars duty-free. They also want guarantees that junior doctors who can't be given employment at government hospitals after internships will still be given the practising certificates they need to work elsewhere.

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  health  |  southern africa

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