Health sector in near collapse

Thelma Chandafira

The increase in the number of deaths due to medical malpractice and negligence has sparked great concern and loss of confidence in the health sector and its attached health personnel in Zimbabwe.

So many cases of ill-treatment and misdiagnosis have been reported against medical staff especially in public hospitals and clinics all over the country, but it seems as though miniature measures are being taken by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to resolve or address the problem that has claimed a lot of lives with no one to cry to for help.

Good health is a necessity and right of every human being hence it ought to be a free service to the citizens of Zimbabwe as it is the governments’ constitutional mandate to look after its citizens as the government is the primary custodian of public health.

Penetrating the public health service providers in the city of Harare investigating the ill-treatment of patients at a local clinic was heartbreaking and infuriating. Nurses were treating an almost dying man like an irritating toddler all because he could not afford to hire an ambulance to take him to Parirenyatwa Hospital approximately 15km from the clinic.

Zimbabwe demographic surveys show that 84 out of every 1000 children are likely to die before the age of 5 and maternity mortality sees 1000 out of 100000 women dying while giving birth with major causes being bacterial infections, uterine rupture and also lack of qualified personnel.

Lack of drugs is a concern and cause of loss of lives and so is the lack of professional medical personnel in Zimbabwe’s health sector as many trained and qualified health professionals have crossed borders in search of greener pastures outside Zimbabwe’s crippled economy leaving an average of 1,6 doctors for every 10000 patients.

The surprising fact is regardless of the US$5 a patient pays to get basic medical assistance and donor aid being the backbone of Zimbabwe’s health sector in terms of the supply of medicine, the drugs are not enough to help 11 million  Zimbabweans that are not covered by private health insurance schemes.

Community Working Group director, Itai Rusike last year said it is unfortunate that the bulk of Zimbabwe’s health funding is coming from donors but not all allocated funds in the budget are distributed.

With the rapid increase in the number of medical malpractice related deaths and misdiagnosis, it remains a mystery why the health budget was in 2015 pushed to fifth place from the 2nd place it had secured after education. Stern measures should be put in place to ensure citizens enjoy their constitutional rights including the right to proper health care.



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