The Community Working Group on Health (CWGH), a health delivery services pressure group, has expressed dismay over the continued failure to operationalise the renal unit at Masvingo General Hospital, saying the situation was making life difficult for kidney patients in the province.
Efforts to open the unit have stalled several times in the past few months amid allegations of red tape and bureaucratic bungling by officials at the provincial health referral centre.
CWGH provincial chairperson Mrs Entrance Takaidza last week called on the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure the unit is opened as a matter of urgency.
“As an organisation which stands for patients’ rights, we are perturbed by the delays in installing a renal unit at Masvingo General Hospital.
“This is happening at a time when the number of patients with kidney disease is increasing,” said Mrs Takaidza.
She said it was worrying that the Ministry of Health and Child Care has made several promises in the past over the opening of the renal unit at Masvingo General Hospital.
“We were told the machine (dialysis) was supposed to start working by end of last month, with some personnel having already been trained to operate it. However, a month down the line, nothing has happened and this is making life hard for patients in need of dialysis services.’’
Mrs Takaidza said kidney patients continue to fork out their hard-earned money to travel either to Harare or Bulawayo for dialysis services, yet the renal unit was lying idle at Masvingo General Hospital.
At Makurira Memorial Hospital, which is privately-owned, a dialysis session costs more than $150, while the average cost at Government-owned hospitals is about $60.
Masvingo provincial medical director Dr Amadeoas Shamu said opening of the renal unit was being hindered by outstanding minor works.
He admitted that its operationalisation was taking too long.
“The machine has been installed and personnel trained. However, we cannot start operating the machine now because there are minor works that need to be done before dialysis sessions begin,” said Dr Shamu.
The dialysis machine at Masvingo General Hospital was acquired from China under a government-to-government agreement in 2016, which benefited all major health referral institutions in the country’s 10 provinces.