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Health time bomb as patients bring own water to hospitals
Mbanje, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
September 08, 2013
supplies to hospitals countrywide have created a health time bomb,
in some cases patients, including expecting mothers, forced to bring
their own water to the institutions.
is most dire at Harare and Parirenyatwa Groups of Hospitals in the
health institutions without running water should be shut down in
accordance with international law.
There is growing
concern that there could be serious disease outbreaks at the two
institutions if the situation is not urgently addressed.
water supply has virtually paralysed operations, forcing relatives
and friends of the patients under hospitalisation to bring water
from home for bathing and drinking.
A visit by The
Standard to the two health centres revealed a sorry state especially
in the paediatric, surgical and maternity wards. Toilets at both
institutions emitted an overpowering smell while others had overflowing
days-old faecal matter.
People who visited
the toilets could be seen covering their noses due to the unbearable
smell. Many who had come to visit their sick were using their own
water to wash their hands after visiting the toilets.
very difficult to carry water to the hospital every day for the
patient to bath so we have now resorted to dry washing as an alternative.
A 20 litre bucket will last a week,” said Ropafadzo Dhirau
from Harare’s Manresa suburb.
is a method of bathing which saves water by only focusing on certain
parts of the body but is grossly inadequate in hospital situations.
mother has been in Parirenyatwa Hospital for more than a week and
the family has been taking turns to bring water.
However, a security
guard at one of the entrances said it was illegal for people to
bring water into the hospital.
not permissible to bring water into the hospital and we turn back
those who try to smuggle in water,” she said.
But The Standard
witnessed many people scrambling for the few taps outside and carrying
buckets into the hospital.
tries to fill up some water containers and when patients bath they
do not throw away that water, instead they use it for flushing the
toilet,” she said. One toilet in a paediatric ward A3 at Parirenyatwa
was swarming with flies attracted by human waste and the resultant
smell. There was great concern among relatives as children have
been known to be susceptible to infection.
was throwing up on Thursday and I could not get water to mop up
the vomit and ended up using my wrapping cloth to clean the surface,”
said Mbuya Fushai from Murehwa.
clinical director, George Vera said the institution’s plight
was most desperate because it was built on high ground.
who are in low lying areas like Rugare are in a better situation
than us who are on higher ground. We have boreholes but they are
not enough,” he said.
Vera said the
combination of over 5 000 staff members and the many visitors who
pass though the institution overwhelmed the few boreholes.
are plans currently to build a reserve tank and engineers have been
on site doing their assessments,” he said.
Hospital chief executive officer, Thomas Zigora said the hospital
was affected by the water crisis “just like the rest of the
are affected at your house then it should not be any different from
the hospital. It’s not an issue in isolation but it is being
experienced everywhere,” he said. “If you want clarity
about the water situation go to the city council.”
He said it was
not newsworthy that the hospital had no water even though the situation
could result in the outbreak of diseases.
the hospital had a couple of boreholes and a reservoir.
our back-up plan in the form of boreholes and a reservoir.”
Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) chairperson,
Dr Rutendo Bonde said according to international by-laws a health
institution which does not have running water should be closed.
are many health risks involved such as cross infections, and incidences
of what is called nosocomial infections,” she said.
are hospital acquired infections that can be passed on from one
person to the other.
Bonde said routine
medical checkups would be compromised in the absence of water.
can be acquired from these infections include pneumonia, urinary
tract complications and many bacteria-based diseases.
are the breeding grounds for these infections because people will
use them to relieve themselves and cannot wash their hands immediately
until they get home,” she said. “These infections are
difficult to treat and do not always respond to antibiotics,”
in Harare and Chitungwiza have been receiving erratic water supplies
for several weeks now. Residents are getting water from makeshift
open wells, burst drainage pipes and even from nearby rivers.
have also been hard hit by the water crisis include Mabelreign,
Ashdown Park, Westgate, Kuwadzana, Warren Park, Waterfalls, Prospect,
Msasa Park, Mabvuku and many others.
recently scrapped water bills to ease the burden on residents who
owed council thousands of dollars in arrears.
But hardly a
month after residents celebrated the scrapping of the bills they
now have to deal with the severe water cuts.
Council has warned residents to brace for more water woes this season
due to high demand coupled with failing equipment at most of the
local authority’s waterworks.
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