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Health & CommunityNews

The True State of Zim’s Health System: What Happens To Accident Victims In Zim



In light of the video in which Limpopo health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba berates a Zimbabwean patient for the failure of the Zimbabwean government to provide health services, it’s worth asking: just how bad is the Zimbabwean health service?


Dr Francois Venter of Ezintsha at Wits University sent private emails to his contacts in Zimbabwe to find out.



Here are some of the responses he got (lightly edited for typos and grammar):



“Access to antiretroviral treatment [for people with HIV] is not a problem in Zimbabwe. At times there are issues regarding laboratories, but these are usually temporary.”



“Routine antenatal care is available in all districts across the country. Complicated cases requiring assisted delivery are referred to district hospitals. We do not have a significant access issue for most of the population.”



“If someone was in a car accident and had moderate injuries requiring a general anaesthetic and, say, a fracture alignment, would they usually get it? Yes, however they may face delays… Access to emergency care for severe injuries such as head injuries requiring urgent CT scans is limited outside major cities.”


“If a child needed hospitalisation for pneumonia, and needed antibiotics and oxygen, would they usually get it? Yes, this is available in hospitals across the country.”



Venter said he asked his contacts not to sugarcoat their responses and to stick to the current situation.


“Part of the reason I wanted to hear from them was that I got referrals from Zimbabwean public services all the time and have had no indications of any problems in the antiretroviral programme. I also visited clinics in Zimbabwe in 2018. They were very busy and hard, overworked health workers, but I did not see collapsing health services, or at least nothing you wouldn’t see in Johannesburg where I work.”


Venter makes a tentative conclusion: “Zimbabwe is politically autocratic, but that doesn’t mean its health services are collapsing. They are challenged, but probably stronger overall than, say, much of the Eastern Cape.”



Meanwhile, Zimbabwean opposition leader Nelson Chamisa last week appealed to the South African government to bear with Zimbabweans for 400 days before chasing them away from the country.



Chamisa is a Zimbabwean politician and the president of the Citizens coalition for change.



Chamisa said: “Fellow Africans in South Africa, we note your frustrations and economic constraints. I kindly ask for your support to Zimbabweans in these trying times.”



“Help us as we do our best to fix Zimbabwe for a prosperous future. In less than 400 days our pains, agonies and fights will be a thing of the past. We will win Zimbabwe for change.”



Chamisa called on South Africa to help them hold credible elections.



“We need free and fair elections to permanently resolve our politics and the economy. Many are not in your country out of mischief but on account of poor leadership, bad governance and deadening poverty.”


“Zimbabweans mean no harm to you. After all, we are decent and great neighbours,” he said.



The Zimbabwe exiles forum is backing Ramathuba, according to an eNCA interview on Thursday. It says she is not xenophobic and is only highlighting the truth. The forum blames President Emmerson Mnangagwa for Zimbabweans flocking to local health-care sites.


Robert Tapfumaneyi