HUNDREDS of patients requiring urgent surgery at Mpilo Hospital have been left stranded by the shortage of anaesthetic machines at the biggest referral hospital in the country’s southern region.
This comes as it has been confirmed that at least 300 patients are scheduled to go for surgery at Mpilo.
However, many of these people cannot currently be assisted because the hospital only has four working anaesthetic machines at the moment.
Mpilo Hospital does not only service Bulawayo, it also caters for the whole of Matabeleland, the Midlands and Masvingo.
The hospital’s clinical director, Solwayo Ngwenya, told the Daily News yesterday that the lives of the affected patients were now at risk due to the shortage of the anaesthetic machines.
“This is a highly sensitive issue. We only have four anaesthetic machines and the hospital needs more.
“Patients’ lives have been put on the line. As you know, Mpilo serves a large number of patients from Bulawayo, the two Matabeleland provinces, Masvingo and the Midlands.
“Patients awaiting surgical operations are having to wait for a long time, a situation that is endangering their lives.
“An anaesthetic machine is critical as it is used to put a patient to sleep and enables practitioners to carry out operations,” Ngwenya said.
However, he added, drug stocks at Mpilo had improved significantly, although the hospital was still struggling to get essential equipment and sundries due to the acute shortage of foreign currency in the country.
“The situation is now much better here at Mpilo. We are being supplied by NatPharm and what has also served us well is that we complement the government’s efforts by purchasing our own stocks.
“The biggest challenge though has been foreign currency which is needed to acquire these drugs,” Ngwenya added.
Government hospitals have, for a long time now, been beset by many problems which have frequently led to the suspension of critical services.
Essential medical staff have also regularly embarked on industrial action to press for better working conditions and adequate stocks at public hospitals.
Recently, the head of paediatric services at Parirenyatwa Hospital, Azza Mashumba, broke down in tears as she lifted the lid on the desperate situation confronting staff at most government hospitals.
Apart from having to replace old equipment, most State hospitals and pharmacies are struggling to stock drugs due to poor planning and failure to access foreign currency for the importation of critical medicines.
The availability of drugs and essential medicines has been further worsened by the troubles at the country’s once biggest pharmaceutical company, CAPS Holdings, which used to satisfy 75 percent of Zimbabwe’s needs.