Lives at risk as Parirenyatwa operates under precarious conditions

Parirenyatwa referral hospital, Zimbabwe’s biggest health institution, is operating with a serious shortage of critical medical equipment, putting at risk the lives of poor patients who have no recourse to private doctors, the Comptroller and Auditor-General says.

By Wongai Zhangazha

In a report for the financial year ending December 31 2011 on state enterprises and parastatals, Comptroller and Auditor-General Mildred Chiri said specialised X-ray machines in the radiology department were not functioning as at April 2012 as they had outlived their useful life.

The four critical machines not functioning are CT scan model Siemens, MRI unit, the digital subtraction angiography (DSA) machine and fluroscent unit.

Chiri said: “There were two X-ray machines instead of seven in the X-ray department as a result there were long queues in that section implying that these two machines were inadequate. If critical machines are not repaired or replaced timeously, service delivery and the reputation of the hospital may be negatively affected.

“I therefore recommend that the above issue be given urgent attention to ensure service delivery to protect the image of the hospital.”

In response, management at the hospital said the radiology equipment, especially the X-ray machines, were supplied by Siemens and the maintenance and repair thereof was part of the contract.

However, when Siemens relocated to South Africa at the height of Zimbabwe’s economic morass the company left no back-up service in place.

“Since then the hospital has been relying on one former Siemens technician who has formed his own company. The technician is overwhelmed because he is literally all over Zimbabwe working on Siemens equipment,” said Parirenyatwa management in response.

The hospital management said to address the situation, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare under the Chinese hospital equipment facility, has included the MRI machine.

“The DSA and fluoroscopy machines have been down for some time now and they are in no way part of the problems for the long queues. However, plans are underway to replace them. The CT scan machine will also be replaced with a more modern type as soon as funding is made available.”

In the same report, Chiri observed that Mudzi, Mutoko and Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe district hospitals were operating without doctors for the period under review.
This, she said, affected HIV and Aids programmes especially anti-retroviral therapy (Art).

“Mudzi hospital was operating without a doctor, consequently all the initiation of the ARV therapy was suspended. For those on the Art, there was no one to monitor and evaluate the administration of the ART. Service delivery is adversely affected,” Chiri said.

Chiri suggested that the Ministry of Health should ensure that all districts have doctors to safeguard the sustainability of the Art programme.

In response, the management at the National Aids Council said “the monitoring of drug administration for patients on Art is done by the nurses in the OI department. He or she thus administers drugs, follows up patients and updates records. The issue of the availability of doctors has been noted and raised with the minister of Health and Child Welfare”.