Bulawayo residents have called upon government to recapitalize Mpilo General Hospital, one of the country’s biggest referral institutions, which has since suspended surgical operations due to a critical shortage of drugs.
In the last decade, Zimbabwe has witnessed a dramatic decline in health service delivery that has seen referral hospitals struggling to cope with a critical shortage of specialist doctors as well as medical equipment.
Mpilo, which is the third biggest referral centre in the country, has suspended surgical operations and closed down eight of its theatres out of 12 after failing to purchase medicine and surgical sundries as its coffers are now empty.
Hospital authorities say of late, the hospital has only been conducting emergency surgical operations where patients provide their own drugs from city pharmacies.
Mpilo Hospital caters for patients from the city as well as referral cases from the country’s southern region including Gweru, Beitbridge, Victoria Falls and Masvingo.
Resident, Norman Dube, said it is time for the new government to prioritise the health delivery sector which is failing to cope after years of underfunding.
Dube added that the failure of Mpilo Hospital to cope with patients within the city as well as surrounding areas, poses a danger to citizens especially at a time when city council-run clinics, which normally relieve the pressure, are also facing operational challenges.
Human rights activist and resident, Dumisani Ndlovu, said the right to health is a basic human need and there is need for residents to make government accountable when it is failing to meet expectations.
He said it is critical for citizens to have an input in various policies and ensure that they have a say in how their taxes are spent in social service delivery programmes as not all residents can afford private health care.
Another resident, Agnes Mlotshwa, said government needs to work with other stakeholders to come up with a lasting solution in providing health care.
She said public health institutions like Mpilo Hospital are critical in the care of vulnerable groups such as women and children, who suffer more when the public health delivery system is in shambles.
Mpilo Hospital Clinical Director, Dr. Wedu Ndebele said the hospital is facing critical challenges which are worsened by patients who use the referral centre for minor ailments which can be attended to by clinics and district hospitals.
The hospital is currently on a drive to raise funds with a fundraising dinner planned for the 25th of this month where individual charges are $60 and $600 per table for corporate sponsors.