Bulawayo — The country's second largest referral hospital, Mpilo Central Hospital, has closed some of its facilities due to a financial crisis.
The Bulawayo-based Mpilo, built in 1957, is relying on donations and recently appealed to the community and stakeholders for donations to support its operations.
Alongside the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) and Ingutsheni Hospital, Mpilo is one of the three referral hospitals catering for Matabeleland North and South, Midlands and Masvingo provinces. So severe has been the cash-flow crisis at the hospital that it has closed its out-patients wards.
Laboratories at the hospital are being used once a week due to lack of resources. The Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, allocated US$175,3 million to the health sector in this year's budget. Government owes Mpilo US$4,1 million and the hospital, it is understood, has only been paid US$1,1million.
However, medical authorities have indicated that the hospital needs over US$7 million to operate properly.
Ethel Mcingolwane, the acting public relations officer at Mpilo, said management was now looking outside of government for assistance as the hospital was now heavily incapacitated and was performing way below standard.
"Mpilo is looking to the community and various stakeholders to help the hospital mobilise resources to help rehabilitate the hospital service delivery systems," she said.
Last year, the hospital held a resource mobilisation fund raising dinner where they received a fully-equipped ambulance, while several companies and individuals pledged various amounts of cash and goods to assist the hospital. Mpilo hospital chief executive officer, Lawrence Mantiziba, reported that the hospital had closed certain wards and theatres and stopped using elevators.
"Our vision and mission has been compromised as we have to keep explaining to the patients about poor service delivery as most of the hospital infrastructure built in 1957 faces a number of challenges, including lack of preventive maintenance and repairs, resulting in infrastructure being broken and dilapidated," he said.
Mgcini Moyo, a political analyst, said the crisis at Mpilo reflected failure by the inclusive government to prioritise the health sector.
"It has placed politics above health and other sectors and that is the reason why Treasury will not release the funds quickly before the whole hospital collapses," said Moyo.
"This is an honest indication of the decay in the health system of Zimbabwe; a failure by the government to prioritise social service delivery systems like health while Treasury finds it prudent to fund ministerial trips that cost millions of dollars to Europe and other regions, a clear indication of misplaced priorities," Moyo said.
The hospital is also grappling with allegations that the hospital's accounting staff faked receipts issued to patients and service providers.