By Sinqobile Tesa
The doctors’ strike was just one of those stories that we have become accustomed to as Zimbabweans and it didn’t mean much to me until my father was hospitalised and subsequently passed on at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH).
It’s been a month since he breathed his last.
In their words of comfort, friends and relatives said, “besesifikile isikhathi, iNkosi imbize wasabela”, [his time had come, the Lord called him and he responded].
I accepted their messages of condolence, but a part of me strongly believes that my father would be alive today had he received proper medical attention when he was admitted into a hospital.
We were told by nurses at Maphisa District Hospital where he was first admitted that my mother was lucky to have arrived with him just when a doctor was passing by and the doctor was humane enough to attend to him.
Some people had not been so fortunate as nurses had been turning people away since the strike started despite some of them being in critical conditions.
On the second day of at hospital, the doctor didn’t show up despite promises that he would again pass by.
On the third day we still kept our fingers crossed and again the doctor was nowhere to be seen.
We then decided to take him to Bulawayo the following morning hoping that we would at least get better service at the UBH. We were so wrong.
We told the senior nurse of our intentions and he fully agreed with our decision as my father had only been on intravenous fluids since his admission.
I was, however, not prepared for what the nurse told us; that there was no ambulance and that even if it was available, we would be expected to provide 40 litres of diesel despite Maphisa being only 100km from Bulawayo.
My heart sank.
Left with no choice, we put a mattress at the back of my pick up truck and set off on the longest and most painful drive ever.
With a lump swelling on my throat throughout the journey, fighting back tears and trying to concentrate on driving, I silently cursed and swore at the regime for letting our health care system collapse in this manner.
Does President Emmerson Mnangagwa have a conscience?
How does he think hospitals are operating in the absence of doctors? Is he aware of how bad the situation is?
Is he aware that people are dying in their numbers?
I wondered as I embarked on the heart-wrenching journey.
My conclusion was that Mnangagwa and his government were not really bothered by this genocide, after all they were the architects.
We arrived at the UBH just after 9am only for my father to be admitted after 2pm as there was no doctors in sight.
Again we were told that we were lucky that a doctor came on that particular day.
He was again put on intravenous fluids as he could not eat, speak nor walk.
For four days that he was admitted at UBH, no drug was administered on my father as the doctor, who only came in the mornings kept saying they would carry out some tests to determine the cause of his condition before prescribing medication. That was never to be.
Instead some junior doctors, if not student doctors, did a lumbar puncture and did it wrongly for that matter, as we were told by a nurse.
They intended to do it again for the second time, but there was never that chance.
They had already set my father’s final hours in motion by making a mistake with the first one.
He died due to negligence, due to non-availability of qualified doctors, due to a tattered healthcare system.
We could sue those doctors, we could sue the hospital and the government, but that would not bring back my father.
They say time is a healer, maybe I would heal one day, but for now I am still in pain, angry and bitter at this regime.
Good for them as they fly outside the country to seek medical treatment while hundreds, if not thousands, of people continue to die like flies in their homes and government hospitals due to non-availability of doctors.
Hopefully poetic justice will be served one day. Rest in peace baba!
l Sinqobile Tesa writes from Bulawayo