Avoidable Deaths Continue To Plague Mpilo Hospital

Mpilo Hospital has, over the years , been accused of poor health care management resulting in loss of lives.

BY LIZWE SEBATHA | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | OCT 29, 2021

A collapsing health delivery system is piling more misery on locals already facing frustrations over the country’s deepening economic crisis.

BULAWAYO (The Citizen Bulletin) — Lack of drugs, medicines and a frustrated workforce confront any patient that visits public hospitals, resulting in needless loss of life.

Oftentimes, public hospitals have been blamed by grieving families for the loss of their loved ones.

Former Nkayi South legislator Abednico Bhebhe is grieving after losing his brother, Shadreck following a car accident.

Bhebhe blames Mpilo hospital for the death of his brother.

“I am devastated and heartbroken by everything.”
Abednico Bhebhe, former Nkayi South legislator

“He was first admitted to United Bulawayo Hospital (UBH) and transferred to Mpilo. We wanted him transferred to Mater Dei because he was not being given proper care at Mpilo but for some reason, they failed to do such a simple task resulting in him passing away,” he adds.

Bhebhe’s brother passed away on October 12 after succumbing to injuries sustained during an accident two days earlier along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge road.

The car they were travelling in fell off a mountain cliff trying to avoid a head-on collision with a vehicle that had encroached into their lane.

“They (Mpilo nurses) were only giving him Panadol, and from the time he was admitted we have been trying to get him transferred to Mater Dei but they failed to facilitate that.”

“This is proof enough that the government’s health institutions have completely collapsed,” Bhebhe says.

Bhebhe adds that they were on their way to Bulawayo when the accident happened.

Bulawayo-Beitbridge highway road is in a bad condition despite being the main road linking the southern parts of the country with neighbouring South Africa and Zambia.

This is not the first time that Mpilo hospital has been accused of poor health care management.

In September, a Bulawayo couple lost an unborn baby at Mpilo hospital due to negligence after the woman spent more than 48 hours without being attended to.

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In 2019, Miss Mongiwethu Mathe had her rectum mistakenly cut by a surgeon during a Caesarean surgery to deliver her baby.

In 2015, Austin Ndlovu, a cancer patient, had his left hand amputated after it began rotting after he was jabbed with the wrong medication. In the same year, Mpilo was dragged to court by a city couple over alleged negligence that led to the death of their baby the previous year.

In court, Ratidzo Busumani said doctors had not shown remorse even in the wake of the incident.

Mpilo hospital chief executive officer Solwayo Ngwenya says the institution has taken measures to weed out negligence.

“This indiscipline is compromising service delivery, and putting the care and safety of patients at intolerable risks,” Ngwenya said in a September 27 memo addressed to Mpilo staff.

“This memo is to remind everyone about our core values of compassion, treating all patients with dignity and acting in all reasonable manner to prevent all preventable deaths.”

Bhebhe says the government is equally to blame for the collapse of health care standards at Mpilo and other public hospitals through underfunding and neglect.

“Actually, the government has abdicated its responsibility of health care to the private sector. Public health institutions are the worst; you have got staff that is not up to scratch, seriously underpaid and frustrated.”
Abednico Bhebhe

“They (nurses at public hospitals) might have the skills but they have no tools, no medication. It’s so frustrating to work in an institution where you have no tools to work with and that is a clear sign that the government has abdicated its responsibility to the private sector but it is expensive that ordinary people cannot afford that kind of health care.”

Public hospitals often refer patients to private pharmacies to buy drugs, medicine and other requirements. However, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube recently told delegates attending a Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) conference that the government's COVID-19 response plan had resulted in the country meeting the Abuja Declaration health budget.

In April 2001, the African Union countries met in Abuja and pledged to set a target of allocating at least 15% of their annual budget to improve the health sector and urged donor countries to scale up support.

Public health experts said evidence on the ground showed that the health sector is underfunded.

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director Itai Rusike says allocation by programme is still heavily tilted towards curative care, which attracted an allocation of ZWL$38.1 billion, compared to policy and administration at ZWL$10.1 billion and public health at ZWL$5.3 billion.

“The budget is also not very clear on how COVID-19 mitigatory measures and initiatives will be integrated into the broader health systems, and how the COVID-19 related assistance both domestic and external, both monetary and in-kind donations, and both government and non-government will be integrated and reported within the budget,” Rusike argues.

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Nurses negligence, Poor health care management, Deaths, Community Working Group on Health, Mpilo Central Hospital, Bulawayo, COVID-19

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