In Matabeleland North, Access To Healthcare Remains A Pipe Dream
Villagers believe government's failure to complete Lupane provincial hospital is to politicise it towards elections. Image by Min. Info
Poorly equipped, shortage of vital drugs and lack of specialists characterise most of the hospitals in Matabeleland North with the provincial hospital remaining a pie in the sky.
LUPANE (The Citizen Bulletin) — Fortune Ncube recalls a stressful journey from Binga to St Lukes in Lupane and then Mpilo hospital in Bulawayo where she finally gave birth, after suffering from some complications.
“I had a complication with my pregnancy. The baby was not properly positioned and my expected date of delivery (EDD) was fast approaching. I was referred to St Lukes mission hospital. They tried their best to assist me, but the situation was complicated and had to be referred to Mpilo hospital in Bulawayo,” recalls Ncube.
The road which connects Binga and Dete is in a dire state, full of potholes and rugged surfaces.
“The bus took more time than expected and I was afraid that I could be in labour pains during the trip and it could have been a disaster. Fortunately, I made it, before being referred from one hospital to another but I was exhausted.”
On 11 April, a Bulawayo bound ambulance overturned near Inyathi coming from Nkayi resulting in the death of Patricia Nyoni (35), a pregnant mother. The deceased was being referred to Bulawayo after developing complications during childbirth.
Most of the poorly equipped district hospitals in the province lack sophisticated medical equipment to assist people in critical condition.
This has resulted in the province referring its people to Bulawayo.
Mpilo hospital has over the years become a referral hospital for the Matabeleland region. Image by The Citizen Bulletin
The central government promised a provincial state of the art hospital to be situated in Lupane 18 years ago.
Years later, there is no meaningful development.
Politician Dalumuzi Khumalo says the building of the provincial hospital has taken far too long, and worries that it will be used as a campaign gimmick ahead of the 2023 elections.
“Besides failure of the government in implementing projects, the chief among other reasons of failure for the completion of the hospital and other projects in Lupane is to politicise them towards elections,” says Khumalo.
“The provincial hospital has been in headlines without being completed. Maybe next year during elections, we will wait and see,” says Michael Ngwenya.
The central government says the planned provincial hospital will have 250 beds.
In 2021, the central government allocated $47 million for the construction of Lupane Provincial Hospital.
Matabeleland North Provincial Medical Director Admire Kuretu says all hope is not lost saying the hospital will open its doors to the public ‘soon.’
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“The hospital was supposed to have started working but due to some delays we are now finalizing both the hospital and staff residences. The hospital will soon be working as we finish some sections,” Kuretu says.
Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) number 3 mandates every United Nations (UN) member state to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, a feat the central government is struggling to achieve for its Matabeleland North citizens.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa during his visit to Binga in March this year said Lupane Provincial Hospital will be the largest hospital in the country upon completion.
But villagers like Michael Ngwenya are not convinced.
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Bulawayo, Public health, Zimbabwe elections, Matabeleland North
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