TSHOLOTSHO District Hospital is a health disaster and should be closed, Health and Child Care deputy minister Paul Chimedza said on Friday after coming face-to-face with the sorry state of affairs at the institution.
Chimedza visited the hospital as part of his tour of Matabeleland North hospitals and other health facilities in the province.
The institution that was established in 1951 as a rural hospital and upgraded to a district hospital in 1991, is on the verge of collapse.
It has gone for two years without running water leaving patients and nursing staff relying on Blair toilets.
Machines are archaic and constantly break down.
Food and drug shortages such as antiretrovirals (ARVs) and stationery are a permanent feature.
The maternity ward has not been spared either as the expectant mothers’ homes are overcrowded due to lack of accommodation while bodies rot at the mortuary due to power cuts as there is no back-up generator.
Chimedza described the situation as unacceptable for a district hospital and ordered authorities at the 140-bed institution to go and take a generator that had been lying idle at Lupane Clinic.
“This is a health disaster. Ideally, we should close this institution,” he said.
“We cannot have a situation where a whole district hospital does not have running water or proper toilets, it’s unacceptable.
“You (Tsholotsho district hospital authorities) cannot wait for the ministry to come and assist you.
“You need to come up with your own initiatives to save the hospital.”
Authorities at the hospital, however, blamed the government for the poor conditions at the institution citing delays in release of required subsidies.
“Delays in the release of government funds have resulted in problems such as stock-outs of pharmaceutical and surgical sundries, fuel shortages, inability to repair service ambulances, dilapidated equipment like laundry machines and furniture, X-ray machine, CD4 count machine and shortages of food provisions for patients,” the acting Tsholotsho district medical officer Ntombiyakogasa Sithole said before the tour.
“The hospital as well as surrounding areas have a poor drainage system which has resulted in the majority of toilets being shut down in the last two years.”
She bemoaned the collapse of infrastructure due to lack of funding. The building of facilities for the school of nursing was suspended in 2013 due to the unavailability of funds.
“Infrastructure in and around the hospital is dilapidated. . .there are shortages of staff houses while some need refurbishing.
“There is a need to build another waiting mothers’ room at the district hospital as pregnant mothers are currently overcrowded.
“The hospital has three boreholes, however, they are not connected to the main supply and this results in the short supply of running water,” Sithole indicated – Southern eye.