Residents stranded as health delivery collapses

by Blondie Ndebele

The health delivery situation at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo has reached dire straits. The poor state of service delivery is reportedly as a result of Covid-19 and striking nurses. 

The absence of essential workers has reached alarming levels as patients wallow in queues without any form of clinical assistance. Today’s report from Mpilo’s Paediatric Casualty Ward indicates that children presenting emergencies such as burns and poisoning were not being attended. A Habakkuk Trust Community Advocate who had visited Mpilo Hospital this morning for medical care said minors requiring urgent medical care for serious injuries were wailing in agony as there was no doctor to offer medical assistance. 

The few nurses manning the ward allegedly told parents accompanying minors that some of their colleagues have been affected by Covid-19 while others are on strike. Efforts to get doctors were futile as some responded that they were in quarantine while others indicated that they were off duty. After waiting for hours, some had to leave without any medical assistance. 

Mpilo Hospital is the only referral hospital in the southern part of the country after the government turned United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) into a Covid-19 isolation and treatment centre.  To date, the deadly virus has reportedly infected more than 120 health workers in Bulawayo alone. 

In June, this year nurses embarked on a nationwide industrial action over salaries and safety concerns in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The front line workers cited inadequate PPEs and poor remuneration as chief among their grievances.

The deplorable state of the City’s health care delivery system comes during a spike in Covid-19 local transmissions which have deemed Bulawayo as the country’s Covid-19 epicenter. To date, Bulawayo has recorded a cumulative total of 667 Covid-19 positive local cases, a serious cause for concern in view of the ailing health delivery system. Analysts have cited that the rise in Covid-19 community and institutional deaths may be owed to the absence of immediate health care resulting from the failure by the  Government to address the impasse.

Habakkuk Trust, therefore, implores the Government of Zimbabwe to expedite negotiations with the relevant apex bodies as lives are being lost unnecessarily.


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