Hospitals, clinics and other health institutions in the nation are in total shambles, lacking medicine personnel and worst of all run by a dysfunctional management system imposed by the new ministerial alignment.
And the Health Parliamentary Committee chairperson Dr Brian Chituwo says the health care system of the country is in chaos.
Dr Chituwo said it was a pity that government rushed to align the ministries before conducting a study on how this development would work.
He said health institutions were not supposed to be aligned in this manner because primary health care was vital and was not supposed to be aligned to community ministry.
“We tried to convince our government not to go this route but they ignored us and they did not even conduct a study to determine what the disadvantages would be if they went ahead with the alignment.
“The central government is involved in all this and this is making it difficult for health personnel because they won’t know who to report. In this case the ministry of health will provide the training and posting will be done by community development ministry,” he said.
The former minister of health said this would cause inefficiency in health delivery and that the failure by government to plan on how best this could work has impacted badly on the Zambians.
This decision has caused government to fail to effectively manage the health sector as can be supported by the state of affairs in most public health institutions where patients have been forced to buy intra-venous (IV) fluids for drips.
Coupled with the failed pronouncements of free medical care, the act has negatively affected to the operations of the health centres including the only referral centre- University Teaching Hospital (UTH).
Patients at various centres in Lusaka have been forced to seek medical tests from private health institutions where they are forced to pay exorbitantly for services previously available at local clinics such as radiotherapy.
“We don’t have drugs here, and our X-ray machine rarely works, people have to buy intra-venous (IV) fluids for drip, pregnant women have had to go for scans at private clinics costing au around Kr100 because the clinic has not received the gel used in the procedure. In some institutions pregnant women have been exposed to giving birth on the floor and some even without the help of the medical personnel especially in rural areas,” a source at Chingwere clinic explained.
The source explained that patients have to organise their own intra-venous (IV) fluids because the clinic had not received some medical supplies from the District Health Office despite several requests made.
The source said patients were made to scout for huge amounts of money to secure the procedures at mostly private clinics including transportation to the local facility since government declared obligatory for pregnant mothers to secure ultra-sound for the pregnancy.
The source also explained that most government X-ray facilities were out of order because they lacked the necessary supplies and also poor maintenance schemes to service the equipment contributed to the perpetual break downs.
But the former health minister said the abolishing of the user fees in the urban areas has also contributed to the worsening situation of service delivery by health centres.
He said the little income was helping the health centres to acquire certain necessities that the institutions lacked.
He appealed to government to carry out a comprehensive review of the situation in health centres
And when contacted minister in charge of Community Development Mother and Child Health Jean Kapata refused to discuss the pathetic conditions of the various public health facilities saying “I don’t want to speak to you because you just report on negative things, I won’t comment on that issue because your paper just reports on negatives matters,’ Ms Jean Kapata said.
But a senior officer in the Ministry of Health explained that the shifting of hospitals and health centres to Community Development had created confusion in the flow of information from the lower centres to the main referral hospital in the country.
The source at the ministry explained that staff training was now under one ministry while recruitment was expected to be done by another ministry.
“Training, recruitment and staffing will be done at different ministries because health training and Community Development recruits, so we don’t know how the communication processes will be done including the efficiency of the inter ministerial processes,” the source said.