THE only orthopaedic centre servicing the southern region at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) is on the verge of being closed due to a shortage of adequately trained staff.
This was revealed by UBH chief executive officer Nonhlanhla Ndlovu on Wednesday during a visit by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Childcare.
“The orthopaedic centre is a unique centre; it is the only centre in the southern part of the country which provides artificial limbs.
“If your leg is amputated, you get an artificial leg; they are the ones who manufacture those prosthetics, artificial legs, neck braces and such things,” she said.
“In the early 1980s, Zimbabwe used to train orthopaedic technologists and around 1985 to 1986, the training moved to Tanzania under Sadc, but at the moment no one has been going to training.
“The last person who went was from our orthopaedic centre in 2008. The problem now arises that when they retire, we do not have the skills to make those limbs.
“That is a problem; we would like a situation where a centre is perhaps resuscitated in Zimbabwe or there is sponsorship to allow the people to go and train in Tanzania.”
Ndlovu said the centre had a staff complement of eight people, but only two were properly trained — the head of department and another technologist.
She said in the event something happened to the two, there would be no one with proper qualification to do those limbs and the whole southern region would be affected.
Meanwhile, Ndlovu said the hospital had managed to decongest its mortuary which at one point carried more than 200 bodies.
“We have managed to clear our mortuary. We are now working on an average of about 40 bodies, which is reasonable because our fridges are now coping with the bodies.
“I think you will remember a time when we had more than 200 bodies in the mortuary and our mortuary is only supposed to accommodate 60 bodies, she said.
“It is something that is really working well for us. We have found a company that is able to get the bodies and dispose of them and then claim from the Department of Social Services, so this is a very good development for us,” Ndlovu added.
Matabeleland North MP of MDC-T Ruth Labode chairs the parliamentary committee.