By Dumisani Nsingo
BULAWAYO – Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo has been operating with only one expatriate anaesthetist while Harare boasts of a total of 55 of the practitioners, amid reports that the specialists are demanding luxurious cars as part of their packages to work in the city.
Speaking at a Makokoba Constituency Development Association meeting yesterday, the Member for the House of Assembly for Makokoba, Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube, bemoaned the demise of Mpilo Central Hospital saying the health institution was in a deplorable state which renders it unfit to offer appropriate healthcare and medical services to patients.
“Mpilo Hospital is not only a medical centre for Bulawayo. It’s actually a referral hospital for Matabeleland South and North Provinces, Midlands and parts of Masvingo provinces as their hospitals refer patients in need of specialist medical care to it.
“However, it is heart rending to note that Mpilo has only one anaesthetist — Dr Duvnjak Mirjana — whom I presume has already left as authorities there told us he was due to leave for his native country as he was on an exchange programme,” Rtd Col Dube said.
He said he presented the issue at Parliament last week and the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenywata promised to urgently deal with the matter as it compromised people’s lives.
“In Harare there are 55 anaesthetists so I don’t really know why there is such an unacceptable disparity and if we don’t deal with this issue as a constituency, there will be nothing we would have done for our people,” Rtd Col Dube said.
A senior accountant at Mpilo hospital, Mr Thomas Nyikadzino, acknowledged the unavailability of an anaesthetist and a number of specialists at the country’s second biggest referral hospital stating that most of the health practitioners recommended to practice in Bulawayo demand outrageous packages for their relocation.
“From what I have gathered, anaesthetists and consultants don’t want to be relocated to Bulawayo. As we speak right now, I understand the Minister has tried on several occasions to plead with them.
“Even those that have just qualified and these include even those that hail from here do not want to come and practice in this area because they argue that there is no money in Bulawayo; money can only be made in Harare,” Mr Nyikadzino said.
He said the health practitioners were adamant to the extent that they had the guts to put their jobs on the line if their demands for relocating them were not met.
“We have a big problem and upon being asked about their decision to refuse relocating they say we need incentives and the biggest incentive they want is a double cab vehicle.
“They are even prepared to be fired if their demands are not met as they know they can easily work at private health centres elsewhere,” Mr Nyikadzino said.
A committee tasked by Rtd Col Dube to tour Mpilo hospital on a feasibility study also unearthed a number of anomalies at the health institution.
The team was led by Mr Jairous Maropa, comprising residents’ associations chairpersons from Mzilikazi, Makokoba, Nguboyenja, Barbourfields and Thorngrove suburbs.
The report revealed that the mortuary with a capacity to store 30 bodies was only carrying 18 as part of its cooling system was dysfunctional. The hospital’s laundry was said to be operating at 40 percent with one of the big machines that also serviced United Bulawayo Hospitals having been down for some years while an electric machine delivered from Gweru in 2009 has never worked.
“In theatre B there is no diathermancy machine. The one that was previously there was a substandard one and it broke down.
“The X-Ray department’s CT scan was removed last year. So there is no CT scan at the hospital. Global Fund donated a digital X-Ray machine, but without consumables and training the machines are not being used,” read part of the report.
It also noted that the mortuary expansion work that commenced in 2003 was still incomplete to date with thick vegetation having sprouted inside the building while the roofing material had been damaged by termites.
The report also revealed under-hand dealing presumably by the hospital staff whereby consumables that are used by expecting mothers were sold at the hospital’s parking bays.
However, it also noted that the hospital was owed $19 million by patients and medical aid societies with debt recovery of 15 to 20 percent a year. Sunday News