Exodus Of Health Personnel Cripples Gwanda Hospital

Gwanda and by extension Matabeleland South is losing experienced health personnel every month, for locals, the impact is being felt in the quality of care they are receiving.

When Simelinkosi Ncube (43) from Gwanda Town took her ill two-year-old daughter to the Gwanda Provincial Hospital children’s section in July she was attended to by student nurses.

Her child had an itchy rash on her feet which had persisted for some time and she hoped that she would get a solution at a health facility.

The nurses who were under training were the only health staff she found at the children’s section. They seemed perplexed by her daughter’s condition and could not diagnose the problem. They referred the baby to the hospital’s casualty ward to be attended by a doctor.

Upon being told to go and see a doctor Ncube’s hopes were raised as she thought her daughter would finally get the help she needed. After several hours of waiting for the doctor, it was finally her time to be attended to.

“When I got to the doctor I was surprised to see a very young gentleman who appeared to be fresh from college. He examined my child, diagnosed her and prescribed a cream and some medicine for her. I bought these and used them for days but there were no changes,” says Ncube.

She then went to a private clinic in Bulawayo where she was attended by a mature doctor who appeared to be more experienced in the field. Ncube says from a mere glance at her daughter’s feet the doctor reassured her that her child’s condition was a mild one that could be easily cured.

“The doctor prescribed some medicine and after giving it to my daughter for about a week the rash disappeared. I was born in Gwanda and ever since I could remember as a child, my parents used to take me to the Gwanda Provincial Hospital. We knew that was where we could get the best health care and we didn’t have to go to another place,” says Ncube.

She is one of the residents from Gwanda who are now subject to poor health care service delivery because of the absence of experienced staff at the provincial health facility.

The Gwanda Provincial Hospital acting medical superintendent, Dr Mthandazo Mabhanga says the health institution should have 26 doctors and specialists but it has only 15 while out of 182 required, 142 are available. He says the hospital has lost a number of experienced health personnel.

The country has lost a number of experienced personnel in the health sector to the diaspora. This has seen public health institutions rely on inexperienced personnel which has affected service delivery in the sector.

Freedom Nkomo (58) from Gwanda Town says he no longer has faith in public hospitals.

“Whenever I go to Gwanda Hospital I’m attended by student nurses or inexperienced nurses. Sometimes you can find the entire ward being manned by student nurses. Upon seeing what they will be doing one can immediately tell that they are learning and they don’t have much experience in what they will be doing.”

“It seems that in order for one to get quality health care we have to go to private clinics and surgeries as that is where the experienced people are. We once knew that we could get the best care in public hospitals,” says Nkomo.

He believes that Government has to improve the conditions of service for health personnel soon in order to ensure that people have access to quality health care.

Nkomo says access to quality health care is a basic right of every human being.

Sheilla Nare also from Gwanda says she cannot afford charges for private clinics and surgeries. She says she has no other option but to rely on public hospital facilities regardless of the poor service she gets there.

Matabeleland South Provincial Medical Director, Dr Rudo Chikodzore says every month each district in the province is losing about 10 registered general nurses who are leaving the country for greener pastures. She says this is severely affecting health service delivery.

Dr Chikodzore says the health staff are disgruntled over their poor working conditions. She says there is a need for incentives that can attract health staff to remain within the country.

“We are operating with an acute shortage of staff in all health care facilities in the province. For example, Manama Mission Hospital has been operating without a doctor for over a year. Every month each district loses about 10 registered general nurses who are migrating to other countries,” she says.

Source: The Citizen Bulletin

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