DOC CRISIS at Mpilo…15 available out of 60 required…Hospital sounds closure alarm…Problem not unique: Perm Sec

Dr Solwayo Ngwenya

Dr Solwayo Ngwenya

Thandeka Moyo Chronicle Reporter
MPILO Central Hospital is facing an acute shortage of senior doctors that include specialists, a situation that threatens the operations of the southern region’s biggest referral hospital.

The health institution is dependent on junior doctors to carry out most surgical operations thereby compromising healthcare standards.

Apart from serving Bulawayo, Mpilo is a referral hospital for Midlands, Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South provinces.

The hospital’s clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said Mpilo Central Hospital which has an establishment of 60 senior doctors, was operating with only 15.

“It’s a miracle how junior doctors have managed to cope under these abnormalities and still save many lives. If we’re to say they mustn’t do surgical operations and other medical procedures, this hospital will close,” says Dr Ngwenya.

He said due to shortage of specialists, the hospital was referring three or more critically ill patients to Harare every week and this was very discouraging.

“It pains to sign off patients who’ve to be hurried to Harare because we don’t have specialists at Mpilo Central Hospital,” said Dr Ngwenya

He said junior doctors’ hard work and sacrifice has enabled the hospital to continue serving the thousands of patients from Bulawayo and other provinces.

“Junior doctors are being overworked but despite the pressure, they’ve managed to save many lives. We regret the few cases when lives were lost due to shortage of specialists,” said Dr Ngwenya.

He said there was an urgent need to come up with a package to attract doctors to Bulawayo.

“We’ve trained some of the specialists but for various reasons they leave for Harare soon after training to work there,” said Dr Ngwenya.

He said most people could not afford to travel to Harare or pay for healthcare services offered there.

“We wish to provide quality healthcare for our citizens despite the economic challenges facing the country. Most people can’t afford expenses associated with travelling to Harare.”

Asked to comment on the shortage of doctors at the hospital, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Gerald Gwinji said the government was training more doctors to improve the situation.

“You need to understand that sometime in 2007 we had no doctors in the country. It takes about four years to turn a junior doctor into a mature specialist in addition to the seven years needed for one to become a junior doctor,” he said.

Dr Gwinji said the shortage of specialists was not only affecting Mpilo but all public health institutions through out the country.

“We’ve to understand that we’ve a shortage of doctors countrywide and we’ve ensured that each district hospital has at least two doctors. We hope to increase the number to four soon,” said Dr Gwinji.

Botched operations which are blamed largely on the shortage of specialists at Mpilo Central Hospital, have resulted in the deaths of many patients.

Recently, a Bulawayo magistrate, Tinashe Tashaya, presided over an inquest case where he ruled that a patient, Darlington Mangwiro, had died as a result of negligence when a minor operation was done on his nose at the hospital.

Magistrate Tashaya ordered the office of the Prosecutor- General to investigate why junior doctors attended the late Mangwiro without the supervision of senior doctors.

“I’ve no doubt there was some negligence on the part of the medical team that attended to the now deceased. This is the reason why the surgeon has failed to provide a detailed report on what transpired on that day up to date,” said Tashaya.

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  • University

    Isn’t it that you don’t want other tribes to work in Matland? Look what’s happening, patients unnecessarily being referred to Halale. There is no tribal selections at universities but one’s qualifications count. ‘A’ level results are out, bring your kith who scored 20 points and above in sciences, we will definitely take them.

  • tindo

    In your imagination. Exams are standard throughout the country. What a lame excuse

  • salibonani

    even the few ndebele guys who managed to make it to the medical school dont want to stay. the goli policy is what is killing bulawayo. most ndebele guys dont believe that there is life also in bulawayo. as a doctor myself, i had a a significant number of ndebele friends who when they finished their internship they opted to settle in swaziland, south africa, lesotho and namibia. few ndebeles make it to the medical school, just a fact nothing tribal about that. even after finishing internship, 99,9 percent of the ndebele guys refuse to come and practise in Bulawayo. So whose problem is that. How can you explain that out of a deployment of 20 medical doctors to bulawayo, 18 are shonas and 2 are ndebeles. There is nothing zanu about that. Ndebele parents help your children by encouraging them to stay in Bulawayo and not goli goli and goli.