Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pregnant women told to buy their own gloves, medicine and equipment to be used when they give birth at Mpilo Central Hospital

MPILO Central Hospital has been hit by drug and equipment shortages that have forced the biggest infirmary in Matabeleland to make patients buy expensive drugs and equipment prescribed by doctors
from pharmacies.
Sunday News is also reliably informed that the shortage of medicine at the hospital has resulted in the emergence of a syndicate of nurses who buy drugs and equipment which they sell to desperate and gullible patients at a high cost. Some nurses, who are believed to be working in cahoots with doctors, allegedly lift the little remaining prescription drugs from the hospital pharmacy and sell to patients.

Stocks of drugs and equipment at Mpilo Hospital are critically low as the hospital is failing to restock its pharmacy due to a lack of funds.

Patients are referred to private pharmacies to buy the drugs and equipment, most of which should be provided free of charge by the hospital.

The hardest hit patients are pregnant women who give birth through Caesarean operation as the list of drugs and equipment they are asked to buy is extensive and expensive.

Patients due for a Caesarean are required to buy surgical gloves, 200mls of Betadine, suture material — a medical device used to hold body tissues together after an injury or surgery and two spinal needles.

They are also required to purchase two 16 grammes of intravenous cannula — a small length of tiny, flexible plastic tubing used to administer fluids and liquid medications to a patient through the venous system. Also needed, is sodium thiopental which is a rapid-onset short-acting barbiturate general anaesthetic and Suxamethonium, a short-acting muscle relaxant.

The patients are also told to procure two types of antibiotics, metronidazole and ceftriaxone. The purpose of metronidazole antibiotics is to fight bacteria and certain parasites. Ceftriaxone is an antibiotic used to stop and prevent infections. The two antibiotics are given as a shot or through an intravenous line (IV).

Besides having to raise funds to buy the costly drugs and medical kit, pregnant women have to pay $350 for the Caesarean.

The long list of drugs and gear required for a Caesarean has been a source of controversy at Mpilo Hospital. Reports from the hospital are that some time ago, pregnant women who were due for an operation confronted the chief executive officer Dr Lawrence Mantiziba, demanding to know why they were being made to buy drugs and equipment after they had paid $350 for an operation.

Patients suffering from other ailments are also given a list of drugs they should buy depending on the infirmity afflicting them and its severity.

Sunday News managed to interview a few patients and they said that the hospital always told them that there was no medicine. The patients said they were now used to buying their own drugs.

“Patients are told to buy drugs everyday, it’s now normal. In the beginning it was shocking and patients used to resist and question why the hospital was not giving them drugs but now they are prepared to accept whatever the hospital asks of them,” a doctor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

The doctors and nurses who sell prescription drugs to patients are said to be cautious — they don’t sell the drugs to any patient in need. They interrogate the potential buyers to find out if they can be trusted or not.

The guarded mindset of the nurses is motivated by fear of severe consequences if caught, including criminal charges, loss of licence and firing. Using prescription drugs without a valid prescription is illegal and contrary to medical ethics.

Patients also accuse nurses of stealing their drugs and reselling to them. They claim the nurses operate makeshift chemical shops from their handbags and pockets.

“We are at the mercy of these nurses because of our desperate situation. We need the drugs so we have no choice but to buy from them. Personally no one has stolen my medicine but I know that my neighbours have had their drugs stolen,” said an unnamed patient.

Another patient said theft of drugs was not happening at Mpilo Hospital alone but was widespread.
“This thing is happening all over even at clinics and it involves nurses, doctors and employees. It is now standard practice, these people are corrupt. If you have money you can get the drugs that you want at Mpilo even though the drugs are officially not there,” the patient said.

The situation is reported to be a worrying phenomenon in many of the wards at Mpilo Hospital. The business is so lucrative that the nurses are said to sometimes buy drugs from pharmacies in town and sell to patients who are under their care.

Investigations by Sunday News revealed that some nurses had the full complement of all basic drugs that are required for emergency care and that of patients who undergo surgery. Sometimes, nurses in this trade employ trusted patients as their agents.

A nurse at the hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that there were nurses who steal and sell prescription drugs to patients said such people gave the nursing profession a bad name.

“This gives nurses a very bad name. When we take our oath to care for our patients it includes giving them the medications that they need not taking them for ourselves. I hope these nurses get caught and fired together with the doctors they work with. Right now nurses are seen as cruel by patients and we are accused of doing all sorts of evil things. I always felt that something like this was bound to be reported one day and now it has,” the nurse said.

On 17 October, a general hand at Mpilo Hospital, Michael Muvenge Makamure (31), appeared in court before magistrate Mr Gladmore Mushove for stealing from a deceased patient Mr Jonathan Masango. Makamure is alleged to have stolen two bags that contained two blankets, a long-sleeved shirt, black trousers, a black leather belt and an assortment of drugs that belonged to the late Mr Masango from the dressing room at the hospital.

Mr Masango’s possessions were valued at $262.
Makamure could not get away with the crime after the late Mr Masango’s daughter, Janet, who was in the company of Bhekithemba Ncube and Joseph Tsuro, saw him carrying the bags. Hospital security arrested him and handed him to the police.

Makamure, who is accused of violating the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) Chapter 9:22 (theft), was remanded out of custody to 6 November.

Sunday News called Dr Mantiziba, who declined to respond to the allegations of nurses stealing and the shortage of critical drugs and equipment.

“We are rebranding Mpilo Hospital and we don’t want to continue on the negative. We answered your questions in your last story; I have had several interviews since you wrote your story. The Chronicle also wants to interview me. We cannot continue answering negative questions because as far as I am concerned that is counterproductive,” Dr Mantiziba said.

On 6 October, Sunday News reported that Mpilo Hospital had suspended surgical operations after it ran out of pethidine, a pain numbing drug that is needed for surgical operations, amid reports that the hospital has been struggling to purchase medicine and medical essentials as its coffers were empty.

The Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said he was going to conduct an investigation on the allegations.

“I will investigate that, it’s sad that a hospital like Mpilo is going through that. It’s very sad and unacceptable. I feel very sorry for the patients. But we must understand that this is caused by a lack of an adequate health budget, we will work to ensure that the Government pours more money into the health sector.

“Selling prescription drugs without permission and stealing from patients is corruption and I will attempt to investigate that but it’s difficult because you did not provide me the names of the people who are doing that. Such people do not deserve to be nurses and doctors,” Dr Parirenyatwa said.
Source: Sunday News

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