Hospitals of death

via Hospitals of death – DailyNews Live by Thelma Chikwanha 17 SEPTEMBER 2013

HARARE – It is 9am and there is hustle and bustle at the country’s largest medical centre Parirenyatwa Hospital.

The emergency room is packed to the rafters with patients sitting on benches, wheelchairs and stretcher beds.

Some are bleeding profusely, some are groaning in excruciating pain, others are lying lifeless on stretcher beds and on floors, while relatives are performing amateurish first aid on unattended patients.

It is the same situation if not worse at Harare Hospital. You can smell death in the corridors of Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals — visiting the two health institutions is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

The situation prevailing at Parirenyatwa Hospital, named after the first black Zimbabwean doctor, Tichafa Samuel Parirenyatwa, reveals that this basic fundamental human right will remain a pipe dream for the average Zimbabwean.

This is all in spite of the fact that  provision of efficient and affordable health care was a strong rallying issue during the liberation struggle. Sadly, Zimbabweans are no better off, 33 years after independence.

Bogged down by serious brain drain which has seen a good number of qualified health personnel migrate in search of greener pastures in the region and abroad.

Parirenyatwa Hospital also faces a serious shortage of basic equipment.

The hospital, which has a medical, surgical, paediatric, maternity section in the main complex, has literally become a centre of death as it fails to function at full capacity.

Nothing about the manner in which patients presenting themselves at the hospital’s emergency section are attended to resembles a sense of urgency.

Tuesday morning, the Daily News spent half a day at Parirenyatwa Hospital where scores of people, some who had come as early as 6am, had still not been attended to by 11am.

A wailing policewoman who was wheeled into the hospital on a stretcher bed by her fellow cops only received attention after her colleagues intervened, even though her blood-soaked body  revealed that she might have been involved in an accident.

One would have expected the hospital staff to rush to the aid of the woman, who was writhing in pain, but they took their time to attend to her.

At one time, an elderly nurse who seemed to be the matron, came out and complained about the slow service by the staff, but that did not improve matters.

The seemingly overwhelmed staff instead went on a tea break, giving one the sense that staffers at the hospital which also houses the University Of Zimbabwe College Of Health Sciences had gotten accustomed to leaving people screaming in the passages to have their breakfast sandwiches.

The emergency section also boasts of a resuscitation section where at least five patients were being attended to.

At least eight were lying lifeless on stretcher beds in the corridor near the resuscitation room, probably waiting for their chance to be revived.

At around 10:30am, a Doves Funeral parlour vehicle, pulled up and carried away a body.

The service at the hospital is lethargic.

It literally took about 30 minutes for a very sick woman to be lifted out of the taxi she had arrived in.

Her bewildered relatives had to first of all find a stretcher bed where they struggled to put her in.

And this is normal procedure for patients who do not arrive in ambulances. The Daily News understands  there are just three functioning ambulances in Harare.

A few who arrived in private ambulances from organisations like Emras, were  attended to quickly.

An old lady who only identified herself as Ambuya Banda, who was holding a two-week-old baby, said she had brought her daughter-in law to the emergency section at 6am but had not been treated by 11am.

“My daughter-in-law had a Caesarean operation two weeks ago but now the operation has burst. We came here very early hoping to be attended to but she still has not received treatment because by the time we got here, the queue was already long,” she said yesterday.

At around 12pm, the daughter-in-law came back with news that the hospital wanted $15 as consultation fees.

“I can’t believe this, we were charged $300 for the operation two weeks ago and now they are demanding another $15,” a distressed Ambuya Banda said.

She only cooled down after being informed that the hospital would treat her daughter-in-law on a pay later basis.

But she continued to lament the high cost of maternity services in the country, in spite of government’s directive to scrap user fees in public health institutions.

Another elderly woman who had escorted her husband also complained about the prohibitive cost of treatment and the snail pace at the hospital.

“This is definitely not what we went to war for, this is not what was promised at independence, my husband has to undergo dialysis twice every week and just one session costs $100,” she lamented.

The situation currently prevailing makes a mockery of the 2005 quality management programme spearheaded by Parirenyatwa Hospital’s chief executive Thomas Zigora.

Parirenyatwa Hospital is believed to have in excess of about 5 000 beds and 12 theatres, an annex psychiatric and the Sekuru Kaguvi eye treatment section.

Harare Hospital is also bogged down with similar problems of staff and equipment shortages.

Just last week, 15 women who had given birth were crammed on the floor at the hospital when the Daily News visited.

All of this is happening at a time when President Robert Mugabe has appointed David Parirenyatwa as the new minister of Health and Child Welfare.

During the swearing in ceremony of Cabinet ministers last week, Mugabe said appointment decisions were based on party loyalty and not necessarily competence.

“The decision was based on how much of Zanu PF are you, how long have you been with us and how educated you are,” he said.

The Zanu PF strongman all but pledged that his new administration would pay close attention to the people oriented programmes which also included eradication of diseases like HIV/Aids.

Parirenyatwa was minister of Health during the cholera epidemic which saw at least 4 000 perish, a tragedy that brought his competence as Health minister into sharp focus. He has never apologised for the 4000 deaths which happened under his leadership of the ministry.

Parirenyatwa also did not score notable milestones in the fight against HIV/Aids which Mugabe said had robbed the country of many men and women.

Parirenyatwa’s appointment comes at a time when public institutions like the hospital named after his father and other public health institutions are facing serious staff and equipment shortages.

Efforts to secure a comment from Parirenyatwa, his deputy Paul Chimedza, permanent secretary Brigadier Gwinji were not fruitful as their mobile phones remained unavailable all day long yesterday.

It now remains to be seen if Parirenyatwa will be able to turn around the fortunes of the hospital.


  • comment-avatar
    ZimJim 9 years ago

    Pamberi ne ZANU/PF…

  • comment-avatar
    Tabvuma 9 years ago

    Are they going to get doctors and nurses from our new colonial master China ? What would you expect from the government when the head of state is seaking treatment in Malaysia , it shows they are out of touch with there own people,

  • comment-avatar
    Tabvuma 9 years ago

    Are they going to get doctors and nurses from our new colonial master China

  • comment-avatar
    Zambezi 9 years ago

    Amazing how the standards have dropped from when Pari was known as Andrew Flemming!!!!!!!!

  • comment-avatar
    Shame 9 years ago

    Saka nhaiwe Thelma, do you want Minister Parirenyatwa to resign? Asati atombotanga and you are already forwarding a performance appraisal? Your story is a poorly crafted, chest-beating bravado, self aggrandising implant and we know who has sent you.We know what he wants to achieve. Its known all over the place that his tactics and he himself are two shames in one and a half. Shame on you both.

    • comment-avatar
      Monique Kamba 9 years ago

      Nhai iwe Shame unobva ku planet yipi usingazive kuti Parirenyatwa is one of those who presided over the current deplorable situation yezvipatara when he was minister before. With my 35 years of nursing experience some of us who have had the previledge of having worked both in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe and left the profession because of Zanu-befu with its Parirenyatwas, Chasokelas,and Motobis, who sent the professional standards to the dogs, are down with heavy hearts at what we are winessing today. So shut your orifices up, you cannot defend ZANu-befu or Parirenyatwa at the expense of the whole nation. You are such a shameful soul.

  • comment-avatar

    Did anyone notice how a certain old man appeared to fake surprises at the corruption at ZMDC? This is going on daily at ZESA, TELONE, TENDER BOARD and all parastatals. But also him and wife too.

    May be the pressure is beginning to yield. Lets see how he is going to restrain his CORRUPT managers who have known only that as core business. He will have to face civil servants sooner than later.

  • comment-avatar

    …and you see people like Chinotimba making jokes vachipinda mu parliament vachingoti bhora mugedhe…when people are suffering like this because of their incompetance and the same Davids are appointed over and over again…

  • comment-avatar
    DivaM 9 years ago

    Monique,don’t pay attention to people like “Shame”, they don’t exist. They are pseudo-persons who are planted by the CIO to visit these sites to spit rubbish and nonsense. That is what that agency is paid for-to spy on its own citizens. Read this statement again “Your story is a poorly crafted, chest-beating bravado, self aggrandising implant and we know who has sent you”… False! ..and Who is we? This is a threat to Thelma-the journalist. I just hope that one day Zimbababwe will rise above all this quagmire. [Read my other posting].

  • comment-avatar
    DivaM 9 years ago

    The detrimental state of medical facilities in Zimbabwe is a direct responsibility of Zanu PF. That party has ruled the country for 33 years which have been characterised by looting and plundering. Mugabe goes to Singapore for treatment because he knows that if he doesn’t he will die.
    I have just seen a picture of Mugabe with President Fidel Castro in Havana in 2005. I’m very curious to find out why he went there. Why didn’t he ask the Cuban Government to intervene in his country’s health problems? About 4000 Cuban doctors will be going to work in rural parts of Brazil over the next coming years under mutual protocols between the two countries. He [Mugabe] knows the medical potential of Cuba and that such a request would receive a positive node of approval from Cuba. The truth is that Mugabe has outlived his usefulness and should sink into the annals of history.

  • comment-avatar
    Shame 9 years ago

    @Monika Kamba

    My sorry kwazvo. 35 years uri nurse? Ndimika muri kutaurwa kunzi muri kurega vanhu vachifa muzvipatara. Ndimi vanhu vacho. Parirenyatwa ndiye anorapa vanhu here?When Madzorera was minister of Health, did you see him attending to patients at Harare or Pari Hospitals. Imi waMonika imi ndimi mairapa vanhu ivavo. Ndimi muri kunzi Hospitals of Death. Yes ndimi vanhu vacho. Zanu PF yapinda papi? Parirenyatwa apinda papi? Munhu akaappoinndwa nezuro ndiye wamaakutoona kutadza basa nhasi> Ko makadii kuzvitaura Madzorera aripo? Ndoskopu dhonoro dzamuinadzo iyemi VaMonica imi naThelma wenyu uyu. Ini handisi kudefender anyone asi ndiri kuti chinangwa chedu ndecheyi kuita performance appraisal munhu achangovhura door kupinda muoffice? Zvenyu zvekuti makaita nurse muRhodesia izvo ndezvenyu izvo. Ndiyanio asingazive kuti Andrew Flamming basa rayo raive rekurapa masoja aSmith anenge apfurwa kuhondo? Imi WaMonica imi ndimi maibatsira Smith kuti masoja ake asafe. Munonyadza. Kutozotiwo 35 yrs experience? Muchirapa ani nhai vaMonika. Shame on you.

    • comment-avatar
      Rudadiso 9 years ago

      Nhai Shame, what do you reckon is the job of the minister of health if he cannot be held accountable for the state of affairs at government hospitals? You mean the fact that hospitals have no running water and are without adequate staff and medicines is the fault of nurses?

      Hwako hudofo hunoda kurapiswa.

    • comment-avatar
      Monique Kamba 9 years ago

      For your information little idiot Shame I am not even on the soil of that forsaken country. I am now a psychology professor in an Australian university. Saka this brief CV can tell you where I am in terms of my social standing and I will not waste my energy trying to sink sense in your shallow brains.

      • comment-avatar
        Monique Kamba 9 years ago

        Again what makes you think kuti anyone who criticises Zanu-pf is an MDC member. This shows how shallow your brain is; cant think beyond your forehead or better still may be you don’t even use that organ to think critcally and see the world in an objective and open mind but you use some anatomy below your waistline that has not been biologically wired to perform some high order tasks like critical thinking.

  • comment-avatar
    Sekuru Mapenga 9 years ago

    The conditions at Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals is dire. The Emergency Rooms are more like morgues than ERs.
    David Parirenyatwa had the job of Minister of Health before and now he has it again.
    Let us see if he will perform this time around. In one years time, Daily News must review and rewrite this story. If the situation is unchanged, then Minister Parirenyatwa must be called upon to resign.
    In the meantime, congratulations to the Daily News for highlighting a tragic health care situation in Zimbabwe.

  • comment-avatar

    what is happening to the motherland

  • comment-avatar
    Purdy Van Der Linde 9 years ago

    What a crying shame where has the good service of 24yrs ago gone to when it was still the andrew flemming? How would those staff members react if it was one of their own family laying lifeless on a stretccher or even gravely injured and in pain im a nurse my self an patient care comes first