ZIMBABWE’s health delivery system has been on the deathbed for quite some time despite short-lived gains made after independence.
President Robert Mugabe’s government was rightly praised for its efforts to improve access to education and health facilities to reach the majority of Zimbabweans who were excluded by the Rhodesian apartheid system.
However, the wheels began to come off when the government embarked on the ill-advised Economic Structural Adjustment Programme and the self-inflicted economic problems that began to manifest around 1997.
The situation has continued to deteriorate, hitting the health delivery system very hard to an extent that health centres, especially in rural areas, are short of medical equipment, drugs and staff.
Lives are being lost unnecessarily because poor people have no access to health facilities or because available facilities have no equipment or drugs.
The dire situation has been playing out at St Luke’s Hospital in Matabeleland North in the past few weeks where two people have died of snake bites.
According to reports, a man and a 13-year-old boy have lost their lives after they failed to get proper treatment for snake bites.
The Catholic church-run St Luke’s Hospital is one of the biggest health institutions in Matabeleland North and it is inconceivable that it can operate without anti-venon medicine.
In fact, the whole of Lupane district reportedly has no anti-venom medicine, a situation which puts the lives of villagers at risk in the event of snake bites.
These are the real issues that the government should be addressing by putting money into institutions that would ensure people do not lose their lives unnecessarily.
Instead of spending the little revenues coming the government’s way on useless foreign travels and birthday parties, the authorities should be concerned about re-equipping health centres and restocking their depleted pharmacies.
Zimbabweans deserve better from the government and it is high time authorities turned their focus to the dying health delivery system.