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Army maintains procedures were followed in former recruit’s injury case

The Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) claims that all  procedures relating to the treatment and discharge of a former recruit who was retired on medical grounds were done accordingly.

This comes after CITE published a story of a former ZNA recruit, Fortune Tshuma (23) who was injured during training and allegedly discharged without any benefits.

Tshuma is seeking financial assistance to undergo an urgent sequestrum operation on his right thigh.

He had joined the army in March 2017 but suffered serious injuries in July that year and he claims that when the army discharged him in January 2020,  it stopped xovering his medical bills.

In an emailed response, ZNA spokesperson, Colonel Alphios Makotore, said regarding the administrative management of injured recruits in the army the procedures are religiously followed.

“In this particular case, rehabilitation processes are religiously followed. In this particular case, rehabilitation processes for the first stage were done accordingly and the member managed to get medical rehabilitation in time. This was meant to restore the member’s former condition through treatment, surgery and physiotherapy among other procedures. All the costs for the medical attention rendered were paid for by the ZNA,” he said.

Col. Makotore said the ZNA took full responsibility because Tshuma was indeed injured while in training.

“The sequence of events was as follows: Tshuma was attended to by the Senior Medical Officer (SMO) of 1 Referral Hospital on July 1, 2017. After realising that the injury required specialist attention, the SMO immediately referred him to Mpilo Central Hospital where a diagnosis of a fractured mid shaft right femur was made,” he explained.

“Tshuma underwent surgery in which K nails were inserted into the fractured bone. The recruit was later discharged back to 1 Referral Hospital on July 19, 2017 where he remained under the care of the SMO.”

According to Col. Makotore, it is ZNA policy that when a member sustains an injury,  a medical board must be convened to determine the degree of the injury.

“A medical board was duly convened on October 24 2017 and it found that the affected leg had shortened and had developed a chronic sinus that continuously discharged puss, that is chronic osteomyelitis, in medical parlance. It was also discovered that the affected limb showed weakening of the femur.”

However, in an earlier intervuew Tshuma claimed the medical board was not convened.

The ZNA spokesperson said based on the above findings, the medical board awarded Tshuma  27 percent disability arising from the shortened limb and weakened femur.

“The board further recommended the removal of the member from training as his condition could no longer sustain any strenuous exercises. All the medical bills incurred at Mpilo Central Hospital were wholly paid by the ZNA,” Col. Makotore said.

“On discharge from the ZNA, the member’s next of kin were thoroughly briefed to monitor the member’s medical rehabilitation programme. They were also told to report back to 1 Referral  Hospital if any complications arose.”

Col Makotore said they observed that Tshuma’s efforts to reach assistance never came back to 1 Referral Hospital.

“There is a possibility that he consulted the wrong office most probably a very junior Regimental Officer who could have been ignorant of the procedures to be followed when handling such medical cases, resulting in him not getting the correct assistance. Ideally he should have gone back to 1 Referral Hospital to consult with medical personnel where he was initially treated for assistance,” said the ZNA spokesperson.

He added that the ZNA is seriously looking into Tshuma’s case and was “very much concerned about his condition.”

“Tshuma is advised to report back to 1 Referral Hospital where he will get all the necessary attention and assistance. His next of kin must also get in touch with army medical authorities at the earliest possible time,” said Col. Makotore.

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