PATIENTS at Ingutsheni Hospital are being stalked by pellagra and malnutrition as their diet has been reduced to just isitshwala and vegetables, with authorities there saying the hospital is facing financial challenges.
Sources within the institution said the food situation was so bad that patients were being given porridge without sugar.
A source, who refused to be named for professional reasons, said there were a number of patients suffering from pellagra lesions.
“Many are suffering from pellagra lesions, which are wounds found in the areas of the body not usually covered by clothes,” the source said.
“In 2006, patients died after they had suffered from pellagra before developing other complications that contributed to their death.”
Pellagra, a result of malnutrition, is a disease caused by vitamin B deficiency.
In the past, there have been reports that Ingutsheni — the country’s largest mental referral hospital — faced critical financial problems, leading to a poor diet for its patients.
Sources at the hospital said they could only provide a limited diet of isitshwala and vegetables, but this was beginning to take its toll on the inmates’ healthn.
Contacted for comment, operations director Nyasha Chibvongodze said the poor diet was a result of financial constraints the institution is facing as a result of the prevailing economic environment in the country.
“Like any other government institution, Ingutsheni Central Hospital faces financial constraints as a result of the prevailing economic environment in the country,” he said.
“This results in the sporadic shortages of beef and sugar beans, which are sources of protein.”
Chibvongodze said the situation was not as bad as it was being played out to be, saying they were getting support from the Health ministry and the community.
“The situation is not serious mainly because the hospital enjoys a lot of support from the community — churches, companies and individuals,” he said.
“The ministry’s nutrition department provides us with plumpy nuts, which augment the patients’ nutritional requirements.
“We are operating at a reasonable capacity diet wise.”
Chibvongodze said they had not received any report of patients being affected by malnutrition or pellagra lesions.
“We have no patients affected by malnutrition nor is there an outbreak of pellagra lesions at this institution,” he said.