Food shortages and power outages plague Mpilo Hospital

Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo experienced food shortages last week and a recent power outage that reportedly resulted in babies being delivered in the dark.

Hospital insiders blamed this on poor administration.

According to hospital sources, dairy products, vegetables, and meat for relish were all in short supply.

The sources said the food shortages resulted from a lack of planning by hospital management, who scrambled to buy cabbages at the last minute.

“Bread is served every two days. The tea comes without sugar or milk; it’s just black tea. Last week, there was one night where patients slept without supper – patients going without a meal for the whole night,” said hospital sources.

“One day, lunch was served late. The isitshwala had no relish, so the hospital had to scramble to buy cabbage.”

When asked for a response, Mpilo Hospital Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Narcisius Dzvanga said logistical issues had contributed to food shortages, but those had been resolved.

“It’s partly true. It was just a logistical error. We have the resources; it was just poor communication in the delivery system,” he told CITE.

Sources accused the administration of failing since planning is part of administrative duties.

“Can you imagine the emergency when authorities had to run around to buy the necessary food?” said one of the hospital insiders.

According to hospital insiders, services at Mpilo were deteriorating.

They alleged that on Tuesday night, “baby deliveries were done in the dark.”

“There was a power cut or electrical fault, but diesel for the generators was not stocked,” claimed one of the sources.

However, Dr. Dzvanga said Mpilo did have power backup for all the hospital’s critical departments.

“Critical areas like the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and High Dependency Unit (HDU) are always invariably covered, including the delivery section for babies. There is no such thing in my basket here (about babies delivered in the dark). We have some generators, and it can’t be true that Mpilo can be in total darkness. That’s a lie,” said the CMO, who added that if such a situation occurred, he had not been briefed by staff.

“They haven’t told me anything along those lines, and I am in the office.”

Dr. Dzvanga explained that the generators do not power plugs in parts of the hospital, which may cause some departments to go without electricity.

“Overhead bulbs will be on, but plugs will be failing to pull the power. However, people will never walk in darkness in Mpilo. We have enough generators, but they don’t power plugs,” he said.

The CMO also said the Mpilo was “acting on” procuring medical supplies such as chemicals used for running tests, after sources claimed the hospital could not even draw blood as there were no laboratory services.

“Services have deteriorated so badly that people are dying. Mpilo has gone bad, and both mothers and babies are dying. In the case of mothers, the maternal deaths have reached 70 to 80 percent. In 2022, there were 17 deaths, then in 2023 there were 29 deaths,” sources claimed.

“The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has gone up in the past year since the new administration to 82 percent. It used to be 200 in 2022, and in 2023 there were 380 deaths. The waiting times at causality are long as well, and patients are asked to buy pills, including stuff for operations.”

MMR is defined as the number of maternal deaths during a given time per 100,000 live births during the same period.

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