THERE is a high number of stillborn babies at Masvingo General Hospital, as expecting mothers are failing to get urgent treatment owing to a shortage of essential maternity equipment.
Health officials in the province say the avoidable deaths expose the rot in the country’s health sector at a time when multi-million-dollar contracts are being awarded to buy supplies at inflated prices to people linked to government officials, depriving the health sector of life-saving services.
Although Masvingo provincial medical director Dr Amadeus Shamhu told The NewsHawks that he was not aware of the issue, referring questions to the hospital’s public relations officer, other officials confirmed the rising cases.
Masvingo Provincial Hospital public relations officer Mercy Ruth Zulu told The NewsHawks that her office is investigating complaints raised by various people over the way their babies died during delivery.
She said although the hospital faces shortages, health officials always do their best to save lives.
“I am not sure of the cases which you are talking about since l was away from work for some days. I can confirm that my office received some complaints related to what you are talking about and we are currently investigating health officials who were handling those patients. At times we face shortages of critical equipment, but we always strive to make sure that patients who need urgent attention are attended to,” Zulu said.
A Masvingo-based woman who lost her child during delivery at the hospital last week said she is traumatised and depressed. She said she was also in danger after nurses told her that they cannot perform an operation on her since the hospital had run out of surgical blades.
The operation was later performed after the hospital borrowed some blades from Morgenster Hospital.
“I am still traumatised by what happened to me last week. l lost a child after an operation was done hours after the expected time. The hospital was out of surgical blades, which they later borrowed from another hospital. They failed to tell my husband who should have visited a pharmacy to buy the blades. We later saw more than six corpses of babies who died on delivery in the mortuary during the time we were collecting ours,” the woman said.
A senior nurse at the hospital told The NewsHawks that the situation is bad due to the shortage of medical sundries, which the government should not be failing to procure since they are cheap.
He said the situation is more serious for patients who are being referred from other health centres.