Senior doctors at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo have refuted claims by the hospital’s clinical director, Dr Solwayo Ngwenya, that the situation was normal at the health institution amid an ongoing strike by doctors.
In an interview with state media last week, Dr Ngwenya said Mpilo staff would not “watch patients die” and that out of 204 doctors, 144 were reporting for duty.
But the senior doctors said any attempt to cover up what was happening at Mpilo was similar to carrying out a ‘silent genocide’ on people.
In their statement, the senior doctors, said the situation remained critical.
“The situation at Mpilo is critical and any attempt to view as normal would be tantamount to propagating a silent genocide. Lifesaving equipment is in state of disrepair, essential drugs and sundries are unavailable, while hospitals staff cannot afford to come to work. We are incapacitated and we demand that the situation be treated with urgency it deserves,” said the doctors.
However, Dr Ngwenya has since dismissed the statement as false, insisting it was unofficial and should be considered fake news.
“It is fake news, as it is from nameless people who lack etiquette and exposure to certain levels of thinking and of tackling problems. I advise those who are behind this to use official channels,” he said in an interview with CITE.
Dr Ngwenya said such statements were bent on causing alarm and despondency.
“That article clearly says we are facing difficulties but we won’t stand by and watch patients die. The hospital is doing emergencies and we are trying what we can to save people,” said the clinical director.
He suggested those who drafted the statement were influenced by politics and wanted to discredit the health institution.
“Mpilo Central Hospital is not for politics but for patients. Those people have no access to statistics and are not in authority. They are nameless and issue out fake ghosts statements, which should be ignored,” Dr Nwenya insisted.
In response, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctors Association, Dr Aaron Musara, a Specialist Neurosurgen, said the clinical director would call their statement fake news “because it pours egg on his face after lying to the nation.”
Dr Musara highlighted challenges could easily be resolved if the government listened and applied reason.
“Most hospital equipment had stopped working and sundries and drugs had run out. The problem is no one is willing to properly engage. We are asking for issues that are all basic. It is a fact that patients are dying while doctors were there in hospitals yet relatives blame doctors and nurses because they are on the forefront,” he said.
The specialist neurosurgeon claimed Dr Nwenya had allowed contraction of units with non-functional equipment, where staff would have resigned or otherwise left the hospital as happened in ICUs.
“The implemented directive of the Ministry of Health to apply the so called flexi-hours system has caused disruption in continuity of care to the detriment of patients. We are saying we want these issues rectified. It is also a fact that doctors’ salaries are heavily eroded and cannot afford to come to work anymore. These issues only take people who are serious about solving the situation and start dialogue,” he said.
According the senior doctors association, most junior doctors were still incapacitated and unable to attend to daily duties since September 3, 2019.
“Middle level doctors remain incapacitated with some departments, HMO’s formally declaring incapacitation on October 17. Ward rounds are no longer consistent and calls are no longer 24 hour calls. Senior level doctors are also incapacitated although some have been attending to few emergency cases,” said the statement.
The doctors also said Mpilo’s outpatient department had been closed for the past two months and no patients were attended to at the moment while those with chronic conditions were unable to access treatment.
As for the Department of Surgery and Anaesthesia, theatres were only attending to emergency cases and remain under equipped to carry out specialised procedures.
“Only four out of 10 theatres are currently functional. Paediatric theatre is nonfunctional ad maternity recovery rooms have no monitors. In Neurosurgery the department is almost shut down due to lack of equipment. The equipment is out dated and is no longer recommended for use.
“In Paediatrics, the situation on the ground is dire as some departments are closed – Nutrition Unit and outpatients department. The new-born unit is short staffed resulting in an increase in perinatal mortality and morbidity.
“In Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the department is attending to emergency maternity and gynaecology cases. However no elective cases are done and teaching has been affected
The incapacitation has also disrupted proper learning for medical students and interns who are supposed to work under supervision,” said the senior doctors.