It’s a sign of just how bad things have got for
Zimbabweans: one of the capital’s two main
hospitals has run out of drugs and can no longer
perform scheduled operations.
Harare Central Hospital
A leaked internal memo signed by an anaesthetist
from Harare Central Hospital says that the
decision has been taken “due to a critical
shortage of drugs” including antibiotics, sodium
bicarbonate and commonly-used pain relievers
like morphine.
Doctors will now concentrate exclusively on
maternity cases, intensive care and emergency
theatre, says the document which was written
on Friday.
The news has caused outrage among Zimbabwe’s
many critics of President Robert Mugabe, who
regularly travels for medical care to Singapore.
His only daughter Bona gave birth to her first
child outside the country earlier this year.
The privately-owned Newsday said the lives of
thousands of patients were now at risk.
In an editorial, the paper said: “While the
government will be quick to blame the current
economic situation on so-called sanctions, for
many this is a clear case of misplaced priorities
by the government and failure by Mugabe’s
administration.”
Cost of surgery
Echoing the tone of many comments on social
media, one Twitter user said: “That’s why
Mugabe family go to Singapore/Malaysia for
treatment, they can’t stand these shortages
they [themselves] cause.”
There are private clinics in Harare where
operations can still be performed: Zimbabwe
activist Sylvanos Mudzvova was due to go for
surgery in one such clinic on Monday following
his alleged torture last week, he confirmed on
Facebook.
But the cost of surgery at these clinics is well
out of the reach of many in cash-strapped
Zimbabwe. A caesarean section at an upmarket
clinic in central Harare can cost at least 2 000
US, locals say. Some mission-run hospitals in the
rural areas are also better-stocked with drugs.
Three years after Mugabe, now 92, was re-
elected to power, Zimbabwe is fast slipping back
into economic and political crisis. At the height
of the 2000-8 crisis, some hospitals and
pharmacies could not provide even basic
painkillers and in rural clinics, women gave birth
by candlelight.
A cholera epidemic in late 2008 left 4 000 dead.
Zimbabwe’s health minister David Parirenyatwa
has not tweeted since last year. To her credit,
his daughter, media personality Ruvenheko
Parirenyatwa responded to a Twitter request
Sunday for confirmation of the dire state of
affairs at Harare Central Hospital with this:
“Comrade, I’m his child, but not his
spokesperson so how about we ask him here? cc
@DrDParirenyatwa please advise.”
The minister has not yet replied.