By Paidashe Mandivengerei
GOVERNMENT requires over US$50 million to purchase machinery for critical units within public health institutions, Health Minister Obadiah Moyo has said.
In a ministerial statement on the status of the health care system in the country, Moyo said the five central hospitals alone – Mpilo, Harare Central, Parirenyatwa, Chitungwiza Central and United Bulawayo Hospital (UBH) – needed US$35 million for their theatres and other critical care units.
Provincial and district hospitals across the country needed a total of US$18 million.
“Gap analysis of medical equipment for critical departments in Central Hospitals such as Theatres, Intensive Care Units (ICU), High Dependant Units (HDU), Maternity, Neonatal Units (NNU, Paeds Units, Radiology and Radiotherapy require at least US$35 million.
“Requirement for provincial and district hospitals attracts a further US$18 million,” said the Minister.
Moyo’s disclosure national hospitals required the giant figures is likely to draw murmurs from ordinary Zimbabweans and health watchers who feel authorities have prioritised the welfare of top government officials than the rest.
Government officials are often flown abroad to receive more advanced medical care at the tax payer’s expense.
Former President Robert Mugabe died September this year after he has been frequenting Singapore for treatment while current Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has also come under fire for seeking treatment in China for four months with signs his medical bill could almost match the size of the budget mentioned by Minister Moyo towards the reequipping of public hospitals.
Junior doctors in Zimbabwe September this year went on a crippling strike action which has gone on up to date while citing financial incapacitation to continue reporting to work as usual.
Doctors were also demanding provision of adequate equipment, drugs and other materials to use while on duty.
The general public cannot turn to private health facilities and pharmacies that charge exorbitant prices leaving them stranded.
According to senior doctors, critical surgeries can no longer be performed due to equipment shortage, leading to ‘avoidable’ loss of lives.
The five central hospitals’ intensive care units have drastically reduced their services as they can no longer accommodate many patients.
Although there are no official figures brought onto the public domain, this has reportedly increased the mortality rate.
Harare Central Hospital has reduced its ICU beds from 10 to two and Parirenyatwa Hospital from nine to three.
In Bulawayo where the situation has severely deteriorated, Mpilo has two ICU beds and United Bulawayo Hospital (UBH) has a single one.