During his last visit to Chiredzi General Hospital the Minister of Health, Dr David Parerinyatwa, condemn the overcrowded and ill equipped maternity ward as “unsafe” for purpose. Now is has emerged that the patients owe the hospital over $1.5 million in unpaid bills.
The hospital charges $6 for adult $2 for child per night stay in the hospital plus whatever else for the medical treatment and drugs. A modest charge but not in a country were millions now live on less than $1.25 a day this is fortune!
Zimbabweans are a hard-working people and per se there is no reason why millions now live in abject poverty. But what good is being a hard-working person if there are no employment opportunities. Unemployment has been 80% plus for the last ten years; the majority of adults have never had a regular job in their working life. Many families have spent a fortune sending their sons and daughter to school, college and even university only to see them millions of others in the informal sector.
It is not that these people want health services but do not want to pay for it; they would pay if they had the money.
Chiredzi General Hospital was contemplating suing for patients to recover the money; can you get blood from a stone even if you squeeze it hard!
It the truth is told, and it must be told, it is not only the patients who have not been paying the hospital; central government is just as guilty. The “unsafe” for purpose maternity ward should have been replaced with a bigger and well equipped maternity wing decades ago using funds from central government. The whole health service is in a deplorable state because of the decades of poor funding by government.
We have a regime that has been cutting funds from key sectors like health and education and spending obscene amounts, in comparison, on the Army, Police and CIO, overseas trips for the President, etc.! The regime has failed to pay even the little allowed for in the national budget!
It is not that Zimbabwe is a poor country and therefore cannot afford a half decent health service; Zimbabwe is rich in national resource and human resources. But what good is it being rich if you are going to waste the wealth through mismanagement and looting! Last month, in a very rare moment of candour, President Mugabe admitted that $15 billion in revenue from Marange diamonds alone was looted. Zimbabwe’s present GPD is $15 billion.
The admission of looting is coming from the man who has maintained all these years that there was no corruption in Zimbabwe and blamed the nation’s economic collapse on “illegal sanctions imposed by the evil West”. How can looting the nation’s GPD have no effect on the country’s economic performance?
The looted $15 billion could have pay off Chiredzi Hospital’s debt overhang and 10 000 other hospitals, clinics, schools, etc. up and down the country who are all facing similar crippling financial difficulties!
If it was not for donors most of hospitals, clinics, schools, etc. up and down the country will have closed a long, long time ago! There is a limit to what the donors can do particularly in the face of such wanton and criminal waste of resources as we see in Zimbabwe today.
People get the government they deserve and we certainly deserve this wasteful, corrupt, incompetent and tyrannical Zanu PF dictatorship. It is for us to remove it, not for the donors or anyone else. If we have been waiting for the total collapse of the health and education services, unemployment to soar even higher than the 90%, etc. for us to finally demand change; then we should be pleased to know the total collapse is nigh upon us.
Chiredzi General Hospital’s maternity ward is “unsafe” for purpose the rest will soon follow given the nation is sinking deeper and deeper into poverty and the institution is already being weighed down by the $1.5 million debt. Even the country’s major hospitals like Mpilo Hospital are already so poorly funded they only have half the drugs they need; smaller hospitals like Chiredzi would have even few drugs, no x-ray and would soon fail to do something as basic as blood transfusion! People will be going to hospitals to die; we are not far from that day!