Dire situation at State hospitals

via Dire situation at State hospitals – DailyNews Live 12 November 2014 by Margaret Chinowaita

HARARE – The situation at State hospitals had deteriorated sharply, with facilities paralysed by an ongoing doctor’s strike.

The two major referral hospitals in Harare are turning away patients.

At Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, a number of patients were being turned away while distraught relatives and friends were stranded in the car park and at the kiosk.

A family from Banket had brought their 61-year-old mother-in-law who needed to be operated on immediately.

“We travelled by public transport to seek medical attention for our mother-in- law,” her daughter-in-law said.

“She is suffering from  acute back pain and she cannot sit or walk. We carry her every time she wants to move.

“We did not know that the doctors were on strike. We only heard about it as we approached Harare.”

The Daily News crew also visited Harare Central Hospital and witnessed a dire situation in the Paediatrics ward.

A small number of mothers and their children were  waiting in the casualty area.

A woman with a sick five-year-old child  suffering from ring-worms was referred to a private doctor.

She said she could not afford the fees. A lone female doctor bluntly said she was only dealing with emergencies.

In the Harare Central Hospital’s car park and grounds, some patients who had been turned away could be seen lying on the ground and writhing in pain.

Relatives and friends waiting for the 1pm visiting hour were huddled in the hospital gardens, looking hopeless.

Judith Jani, 65, of  St Marys’ in Chitungwiza said she was waiting to visit her daughter who had undergone surgery following pregnancy complications and Jani was not sure how she would be monitored.

“Doctors should come back quickly because pregnant women need to be constantly monitored,” she said.

“They should not go on strike because it causes deaths. The doctors should iron things out with the government because people are dying.”

Snodia Dube from Chiredzi said she is suffering following surgery in June.

“I had a still birth,” she said.

“My womb started producing water and blood since then. I came back for a review and was told that I need to see a doctor.

“I have been referred to a private doctor because government doctors are on strike. I will wait until they come back because I cannot afford private doctors’ fees. My husband works in a sugar cane plantation in Chiredzi and he earns $150 a month.”

A Budiriro man was waiting to visit his father who had been diagnosed with cancer of the colon. He said the cancer was spreading rapidly and he feared for his life. He was also referred to a private doctor but could not afford the charges.

“We were charged $700 for the operation at this hospital and it costs $3 000 at a private institution,” he said. “I cannot afford that money even if our whole family make contributions.

“The doctors should just be paid what they want and come back to work, people are dying.”

The Daily News spoke to a group of women killing time in the shade waiting for the visiting hour. They said government should reach an agreement with doctors.

The women called upon President Robert Mugabe and the first lady Grace to speak about the strike and most probably end it.

About 400 doctors are reportedly on strike. It was reported that the Health ministry permanent secretary is expected to meet with his Finance ministry counterpart to discuss the doctors’ grievances.

The stay away follows a  two-week ultimatum issued to government. The  doctors are demanding improvements in conditions of service, including a minimum salary of $1 200 from the current $280.

On-call allowances, according to the demand letter, must be pegged at $1,45 per hour.

Apart from the salary review, the junior doctors have also been demanding duty exemptions and adequate infection prevention equipment.