HARARE – Two people died after they were denied treatment at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare on Sunday.
The two’s health deteriorated while attending a church service at the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries led by Walter Magaya, and were first rushed to West End hospital but were referred to Parirenyatwa hospital where authorities refused to admit them.
West End hospital authorities said the two, a 45-year old male who was diabetic and a 17-year old girl who was asthmatic, could not be admitted at the hospital, which they say was already full when they arrived.
“The 120-bed hospital was full but the staff managed to stabilise the patients and offered emergency care before transferring them to Parirenyatwa hospital,” said Dr Margret Maulana, the West End hospital Chief Executive.
Authorities at Parirenyatwa hospital however refused to admit the two patients, claiming that the hospital’s policy does not allow them to take patients referred from elsewhere.
Head Accidents and Emergency Unit at Parirenyatwa hospital, Dr Monika Schlaak admitted that the hospital is sometimes forced to turn away patients due to capacity challenges.
The hospital’s Casualty Department has a memo dated 26th January 2015 clearly instructing staff members not to accept patients from private hospitals and Harare Central hospital.
The memo also further instructs that all patients who choose Parirenyatwa hospital as their first point of care must be assisted even when beds are not available.
Meanwhile, the attitudes of staff members towards patients at public hospitals, as witnessed by the shuttling of the two patients between Parirenyatwa and West End hospitals, have raised an outcry while private hospitals have been accused of milking patients before dumping them at government hospitals once their coffers dry up.
Experts say there is need for a rethink on Zimbabwe’s health delivery system.
A hospital is expected to be a place of peace and serenity, but many a patient dread paying a visit at a public hospital some of them which have become notorious for harassing patients or neglecting them till they die.
Some people in urban areas prefer to go to mission hospitals in the rural areas where they testify they are treated with dignity.
But what is it that mission hospitals are doing that public health institutions are failing.
For experts, the current situation where tertiary referral institutions such as Parirenyatwa, United Bulawayo Hospitals, Mpilo and Harare Central hospitals cater for the bulk of the population is unsustainable and needs a relook.
“Polyclinics must be upgraded to hospital status to lessen the burden on public health institutions,” said Itai Rusike, the Director of the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH).
“The government must closely monitor and regulate private health institutions as some are profiteering and dumping patients on public hospitals once they exhaust their money,” said Dr Vivek Solanki, the Director at Borrowdale Trauma Centre.
As Zimbabwe’s population continues growing, experts believe government should embark on a more robust initiative to ensure the emergence of more public hospitals, and polyclinics staffed by adequate personnel.