Tuesday 26 September 2023


THERE was outrage in the medical fraternity following the death of a Manicaland-based medical doctor in a road accident last Friday night.

Mthabisi Nembaware was a passenger in a vehicle whose tyre burst along the Hauna-Mutare Highway.

He sustained a traumatic brain injury and was initially stabilised at Mutare Provincial Hospital.

However, due to the lack of a functional intensive care unit at Manicaland’s largest referral hospital, which is currently operating with an inefficient ambulance system, he could not be airlifted to Harare for specialised medical care because the Mutare airport had malfunctioning landing lights.

Nembaware succumbed to the injuries at around 11pm on Friday night.

The medical doctor, who reportedly was returning from duty at Hauna Hospital when the accident occurred, was betrayed by a system which he diligently served, stakeholders in the medical fraternity charged.

In response to the tragic turn of events, doctors and experts from across the board expressed grief over Nembaware’s fate.

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights secretary Norman Matara said: “The circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Mthabisi Nembaware are just the ripple effects of a failed health delivery system and a failed State.

“It is unfortunate that Zimbabwean citizens continue to lose their lives through avoidable deaths. While we acknowledge that people even in developed countries die from accidents, citizens should be given a chance to live through timely and appropriate emergency healthcare services.

“Dr Nembaware wasn’t able to get that. His death serves as another reminder to the government of Zimbabwe to introspect and seriously invest in healthcare so that we address these challenges that have been there for decades and continue to claim lives of innocent citizens.”

Health expert Hamadziripi Dube said the operating system had let them down and that a relook was inevitable.

“There is no proper system in place to provide private transportation for doctors and we call upon the government to re-introduce the systems that were in place soon after independence,” Dube said.

“Serious intervention is needed. Some time back, there were vehicle loans for medical personnel, where they could purchase personal vehicles, but right now, that privilege is not there.

“It is a call for the government to revisit all the statutory instruments that were (in place) in the (late former President Robert) Mugabe era.”

Added Dube: “The second republic has removed a number of things that were being done to assist medical personnel. Doctors working in the rural areas need to be incentivised.

“There are a number of things which are non-monetary. If it was private transport, it was going to be something else, but look, a medical doctor died in a public transport, a mushikashika vehicle. It is a call for the government to intervene,” he added.

The 30 helicopters bought by government from Russia last year as air ambulances were in no show at the critical moment for Nembaware, who will be buried today in Chiware village, Makoni district, Manicaland province.

Another health expert, Josephat Chiripanyanga, said Nembaware’s ordeal was a reflection of how medical personnel suffer to save lives.

He expressed worry over the manner in which Nembaware died.

“As medical practitioners, it is sad that we failed to save one of our own, which also goes a long way to express the challenges we face in the medical fraternity. If it is difficult to save one of our own, how difficult is it going to be to save even the generality of our patients?” Chiripanyanga said.

“As such, we encourage the government and implore it to improve the health delivery systems, especially when it comes to referrals, availability of ambulances, air ambulances, helicopters and all those things to the general public and to be easily accessible and affordable.

“The systems should also be upgraded to work properly to provide better services to the general public. We plead with the newlyappointed Minister of Health, Dr Douglas Mombeshora to improve issues to do with air ambulances, helicopters and things like that so that we can be able to transfer patients on time.”

He added: “We are asking the government to ensure that specialist services are available in all provinces and even in rural setups. We are pleading with the government to be able to provide all the specialists to man the health institutions so that they are able to provide emergency services without having to worry over transporting patients for such services.”

On Saturday, nurses at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital expressed shock that the system Nembaware had served failed to save him.

“If that can happen to a government doctor, what more about us mere nurses. We can imagine how even the poor man on the street can be saved,” the nurses said.

Contacted for comment, Mombeshora said he was not aware of the death of Nembaware.

“I have been out the whole day attending Chitungwiza (Central) Hospital CEO [chief executive officer] Michael Chiwanga’s funeral. I am yet to be apprised on that,” he said. Newsday


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