Monday 12 September 2022


Some donated equipment at Bulawayo United Hospitals (UBH) has been gathering dust since last year yet patients countrywide are complaining that public health institutions are operating without adequate equipment and medicines.

The donations were part of Covid-19 interventions as the global pandemic crippled essential hospital services leaving the public without access to quality healthcare. An investigation by Chronicle revealed that there are beds, anaesthetic machines, wheelchairs, desks, operating tables, paediatric incubators and furniture that have been stored at UBH’s recreational hall since they were donated last year. The donors include the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) which through the Embassy of Japan bought equipment worth US$500 000 for public hospitals including UBH.

In a statement, UNFPA confirmed that anaesthetic machines, operating tables, delivery tables, ICU beds, infusion pumps, examination lights, Anti-Shock garments, umbilical clamps, Urinary Protein Test Strips, Doppler foetal heart monitor and midwifery kits, among others were donated to UBH and other hospitals.

These were meant to help public institutions improve service delivery related to maternal and child health. The Rotary Club also made another huge donation to UBH last year including wheelchairs, midwifery kits, hospital furniture among other things which are stashed in the hall. For a long time, women have been giving birth on mattresses on the floor due to a shortage of beds at the hospital.

Staff members, under pressure, have even extended the “floor beds” within the maternity wards to the balcony within the department to accommodate women. The department is functioning with only two beds within the delivery room and one theatre for C-sections meaning only a limited number of women can be assisted to deliver properly at any given time.

Ms Senzeni Mkhize from Nkulumane suburb told Chronicle of a nightmarish experience when she delivered her baby on the floor at ther hospital while waiting for a bed recently.

“The maternity ward is overcrowded and we didn’t even have enough space for sleeping hence we took turns. While I was waiting for a bed, I delivered on the floor and the midwives came rushing for the baby. There are no wheelchairs in this hospital to help those women who cannot walk while in labour. It’s so sad and I hope the situation will improve,” she said.

One of the senior healthcare workers at UBH said management had failed to utilise donated equipment yet there is a serious shortage of equipment.

The worker said some of the equipment in the hall could readily address many challenges the hospital is facing and save lives, especially in the maternity ward which remains the busiest at the moment.

“We are grateful that after Covid-19 was declared a disaster, it exposed our circumstances as a hospital and some donations came through from several organisations including UNFPA and the Rotary Club to help us deal with the growing demands which were worsened by Covid-19. Since we had a fully furnished Covid-9 centre, these resources went towards other departments which need them but sadly we have lots of things gathering dust in the hall, we wonder why,” said the worker, who cannot be named due to ethical reasons.

According to dissatisfied staff members, some of the equipment awaits the opening of an obstetric fistula centre which has been under construction for more than five years but a lot remains idle while patients are getting substandard services.

“It’s painful to see patients being turned away because of space and unavailability of theatre equipment yet we have equipment lying idle in our hall. Some of the equipment may have expired by now,” said one of the workers who bemoaned being forced to improvise to attend to patients when equipment was gathering dust. Chronicle


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