The careless Ministry of Health

via The careless Ministry of Health November 12, 2013 by Rashweat Mukundu NewsDay

After arguing in this column a few weeks ago that the Health and Child Welfare ministry was being irresponsible for administering anti–bilharzia and intestinal worm tablets without the requisite public awareness, I sadly write again this week to re-affirm my position, shared by many parents and guardians – that this is one careless and shameful ministry.

This, I say, noting that three deaths of children who took part in this programme have been recorded.

These are deaths that have been recorded and there could be as many other such related deaths that the media and the ministry have missed.

As I stated a few weeks ago, the Health ministry has demonstrated a shocking disregard for human life and contempt for citizen rights simply by taking our health for granted.

This is even more sad for a ministry that is led by doctors at almost every level, from the minister, the deputy, permanent secretary and directors.
It is sad and a national scandal that parents of the three dead children had no idea that what was meant to help in advancing the health of their children would on the contrary, result in their demise.

These parents and guardians, like many, were not fully informed of what to expect and had they known, they could probably have taken a decision or actions to protect their children.

When this programme was being carried out, there was no public education on whether children suffering from different conditions, be it those on ARV treatment, could take these drugs.

There was no information or awareness on whether children on other forms of treatment, short or long term, could take this cocktail of death.

The Health ministry in its wisdom made the decision for us – passed the message through some school circular and we were supposed to kneel down and say Yebo Nkosi.

Despite the recorded three deaths, as many children are sick, have been missing school classes and those parents and guardians who can afford have expended money in medical treatment – not at government hospitals which are almost dysfunctional, but at private hospitals and clinics.

I am yet to hear whether the ministry made any efforts to contact those families who lost children to explain what happened and comfort them and those still sick on what measures to take.

I am yet to hear of any emergency centres that have been set moreso in rural areas to deal with emergency cases.

Often, health centres in rural areas are tens of kilometres away and faced with a sick child – many rural parents or guardians are caught between a rock and hard place.

Not only are the health centres far away, they probably do not have trained staff, medication and critically, the staff may not have received enough information on what to do when faced with such emergencies.

If there is anything that describes and defines sleeping on the job then nothing beats this latest boob by the so called Health ministry.

The problem with such ministries is that they maintain a contemptuous attitude towards citizens they are supposed to serve.

This contempt is based on the “them” and “us” attitude. “Them” being the povo who are sick, ignorant and need the “Us”, doctors who are knowledgeable and who, through their “benevolence”, save us from our sicknesses of poverty.

It is on this basis that the Health ministry’s programmes are shrouded in technical language, and serious blunders are still hidden under procedures.

The deputy Health minister Paul Chimedza was telling us that they are expecting results of the investigation into the three deaths and before that, they do not know what could have gone wrong.

Whatever these results say is exactly what the Health ministry should have known before embarking on this programme.

One wonders whether the parents of the three children and many thousands more who are hallucinating, getting weak, vomiting and collapsing will ever get a logical answer.

One cannot therefore not stop wondering whether the children of the poor were used as guinea pigs.

I even wonder whether this programme was administered in private schools where the children of the “us” go to .

One cannot blame the lack of budgetary support because public awareness does not cost much.

It is after all, the role of the state‒owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Co-operation (ZBC) and indeed all licensed broadcasting stations to transmit public‒interest information.

I do not remember the minister holding a Press conference to launch this programme.

On the contrary, the launch programme involved administering the deadly drug that has resulted in three deaths and as many illnesses.

It is becoming clear that there is a huge disjuncture between training in medicine and training in management.

And, what the Health ministry needs as of yesterday are management skills in dealing with the citizen health issues.

Simply assuming that doctors know how to manage national health programmes is akin to assuming that a pilot knows how to assemble a Boeing engine.

And, for many years, the blunder of successive governments has been to think that the Ministry of Health must be led by medical doctors, some of whom are not even capable of taking care of their own health judging by their renowned alcohol abuse.

It is no surprise therefore that one of the most secretive ministries is that of Health and Child Welfare – this secretive attitude is to hide maggots in their cardboards.

Citizens need to confront this ministry as it so important to be left to the unthinking no matter what the certificates hanging in their offices say.

I maintain my stance, this is a shameful and careless ministry.

No wonder we have as many traditional healers and prophets doing brisk business, many now making a killing “diagnosing” and “healing” the side effects of the ministry anti–bilharzias and intestinal programme.


  • comment-avatar
    Washumba 9 years ago

    Where did the medicine come from I suspect America?

  • comment-avatar
    alpha and omega 9 years ago

    these blanket poorly thought out immunisations using new drugs must be outlawed. for how long must african children be used as guinea pigs for western developed medicines? was bilhazia such a menace that each and every child had to be immunised? why not use such resources to fight malnutrition in children, a far much more prevalent challenge for zimbabwean children?

  • comment-avatar
    Dumisani 9 years ago

    This is the same thing happening in Botswana, my child was vaccinated under the same programme, now she is very sick and I have pumped out a lot of money. No information about the side effects of the drug was given. its just sad when we have leaders who don’t make a research first. To me this is utter ignorance of the ministry of health.

  • comment-avatar
    easily fooled 9 years ago

    Taura ka background yenyaya yako? Wakapusawo newe iwe…..uri kungopopota…..chii chakaitika, should the medication be administered by a doctor? Is it poor quality? Does it have approval or recognition of medical laws etc?

    Ndinoda kuti uite research yako afresh, write it as a teacher, telling us more about the medical, the expectations in terms of administration, the role of specialised medical persons etc. Manje manyorero avaita vatambisa nguva yevaverengi without giving us more information and without much help to the readers except “dont take the medication because you will die, instead, you would rather die from bilharzia”.

  • comment-avatar
    Chibwe 9 years ago

    The ministry of health is supposed to give all details. The writer wants the Ministry to investigate before issuing these drugs which is right after all. This is mere ignorance, carelessness and stupidity. This ministry cannot be trusted. There should be awareness campaigns first. I refused my daughter to be immunised because I know the history of the West. Here we are just interested in donations even of poison to drink. It’s fortunate they did not make it mandatory. It needs to be investigated if their children were vaccinated. These so-called medical doctors can be used for depopulation agendas. Who knows what the other effects are besides falling sick after the vaccination. Shame, shame, shame on the Ministry of health.