Nqobile Tshili Chronicle Correspondent
BULAWAYO’S Mpilo Central Hospital and the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) are owed a combined $23 million by patients, a situation authorities say is compromising service delivery.
Mpilo Central Hospital is owed $15 million while UBH is owed $8 million by patients, making it difficult for them to buy essentials such as drugs.
Ingutsheni Central Hospital, which caters for mental patients, offers free services, but is also faced with a shortage of drugs and food.
Mpilo acting chief executive officer, Leonard Mabandi, yesterday said the hospital was operating on a shoestring budget which compromises operations.
“We’re owed about $15 million which makes our operations very difficult. We need to have a constant supply of medical equipment but the debt is not helping the situation,” said Mabandi.
He said the institution engaged debt collectors but this has not made a difference. “We employed a debt collector but most of the people who come here are very poor so this has not fixed the problem. Those who can pay up should feel more responsible and pay. The hospital belongs to all of us. For it to continue giving services, it needs resources,” said Mabandi.
He said the relationship between the hospital and its patients “can be compared to that of a hen and an egg, inseparable, therefore the need to pay up.”
UBH’s chief executive officer Nonhlanhla Ndlovu said the $8 million owed to the hospital was affecting service delivery.
Ndlovu said the hospital was facing drug shortages, and the situation could be better if the debt was cleared.
“We’re facing medicine shortages because of the general shortage of funds. The hospital is owed $8 million by its patients and this failure to clear the debt is contributing to our challenges,” said Ndlovu.
The country’s health sector is facing a critical shortage of drugs owing to procurement delays by the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) due to funding challenges.
This has forced major hospitals in the country to ask patients to buy medication from private pharmacies at a higher price.