IN what succinctly shows a collapsed health delivery system, a 65-year-old widow in Mutare is keeping a piece of her uterus in her house after failing to secure funds to send it for laboratory testing.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Maria Chamisa of Dangamvura in Mutare is struggling with her health and doctors at Mutare Provincial Hospital cut a piece of her troubling uterus, a biopsy operation, early this month in order to investigate the source of her problem. The operation took place on January 20.
The uterus specimen had to be sent to a laboratory for testing and this required payment for the laboratory test. Chamisa, however, did not have the $85 to pay for the laboratory test.
She said medical staff at Mutare Provincial Hospital told her to take the piece of the uterus home and take it to a laboratory when she raises the laboratory fees.
Up to now, Chamisa has not managed to raise the required amount and is keeping the flesh in a bucket in her living room of her house in Dangamvura.
“I have been suffering from back pains for a long time and I used to go to our local clinic until I was referred to the Provincial Hospital and that was on January 20,” she told The Standard on Friday.
Chamisa said doctors advised her that her uterus needed to be examined after complaining of severe pains on that part of her body.
“At times when I coughed it would just drop like I was giving birth so doctors suggested that it should be removed. The biopsy was done and I was charged $800. I managed to pay $400 and there is still an outstanding bill,” she said while thanking Zanu PF Manicaland senator Judith Mawire who saved her from hospital detention for failure to pay for the biopsy.
Chamisa survives on street vending and has no other source of income. When the laboratory refused to take the piece of flesh for testing because of non-payment, Chamisa went back to the hospital where she was advised to take the flesh home and keep it in a cool place until she raised laboratory fees, preferably inside 30 days.
“They told me that it I should keep it in a cool place for a time not exceeding one month. Therefore I keep it in my dining room in a bucket and fortunately my grandchildren have never tempered with it.”
The Standard observed some fluid flowing from the plastic holding the specimen, an indication that it may be going bad, especially with the obtaining high temperatures.
According to medical expects who requested anonymity, preservation of any flesh which should be sent for tests should be done in an appropriate place so that it does not give wrong results.
They also said it was unadvisable to keep such specimen at home.
Senator Mawire said the matter was very disturbing and should be investigated thoroughly.
“As the senator for the area I am not happy at all about this. People should not be punished to this extent because they don’t have money. It’s unheard of,” she said.
“Imagine this woman is above 60 years of age and what message are we sending here by this conduct. There are children at her house and you will never know maybe the specimen had some infections and what if they spread to other people.
“I think the ministry should do something about this. There are certain storage places where such specimen should be kept,” she said adding that she would take the matter to parliament.
Chamisa’s unemployed daughter Edith said the family was struggling to raise funds for her mother’s treatment and it was worrisome to see how her health was deteriorating.
Efforts to get a comment from Mutare Provincial Hospital on Friday were fruitless as one Dr Masanga who is in-charge of the institution was said to be away on a workshop.
Standards at many government hospitals have deteriorated to unacceptable levels in the country prompting those with means to seek treatment elsewhere including India.