SAKUBVA District Hospital (SDH) is in the eye of a corruption storm involving doctors, nurses and supporting staff who are allegedly demanding money ranging from US$100 to US$200 from expecting mothers booked for Caesarean section in exchange of service delivery at the Government hospital.
The expecting mothers, most of them would have been referred to the hospital from rural areas in Mutare District and local city clinics, are left with no option, but to fork out the money to the hospital staff who include general hands and anaesthetists.
In 2017, President Mnangagwa, announced that all costs associated with maternity care at public hospitals would be covered by the Government, as well as care for children under five years of age and adults over 65.
However, two-month-long investigations conducted by The Manica Post revealed that expecting mothers were paying through the nose to deliver their babies at Sakubva District Hospital.
The deep-rooted rot at the hospital where poor service has become the order of the day has resulted in mortalities that could have been avoided.
This is reportedly contributing to the high Manicaland Institutional Maternal Mortality Rate (IMMR) which currently stands at 111 per 100 000 births.
This is the highest in the country.
Acting Deputy Director of Reproductive Health in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Mavin Venge recently said Manicaland recorded the highest IMMR in the country during the first half of 2022.
“Manicaland has recorded 111 cases per 100 000 live births in Institutional Maternal Mortality Rate (IMMR). Mashonaland West is slightly behind Manicaland with 98 deaths per 100 000 live births and then comes Masvingo Province which has recorded 57 deaths per 100 000 live births cases so far,” said Dr Venge.
IMMR is the number of maternal deaths during a given time period per 100 000 live births.
In an interview, Mutare District Medical Officer, Dr David Muchirewese confirmed receiving complaints from different patients accusing the doctors, nurses and other supporting staff at Sakubva Hospital of corruption.
However, he could not shed more light as the Ministry of Health and Child Care is still conducting internal investigations on the issue.
“Only two incidents have been formally reported to my office and we are currently investigating them. It is only after the investigations that we will know what really transpired and the facts of the matter. We are sure that in the next two or three weeks we will have concluded the investigations and established the facts,” said Dr Muchirewese.
However, investigations revealed that the expecting mothers are given an option of either paying a bride or risk suffering a stillbirth or dying awaiting delivery as the doctors and nurses refuse to attend to them.
It emerged that every night, nurses go into the maternity ward and tell those due for Caesarean section the following day to call their relatives to bring money for the services to be rendered.
When in theatre, the money, which is not receipted, is allegedly handed over to the anaesthetist before he or she starts working.
Some patients have been booted out of theatre after failing to pay the money.
A Sakubva woman who gave birth at the hospital on November 1 said she had to fork out US$130 to be served.
“My due date was October 31, but because I had no money, I had to endure labour pains the whole night and risk my life and that of my baby as l waited for my relatives to raise the money.
“They told me that US$30 was for the anaesthetist while US$40 was for the theatre. About US$60 was for the equipment. The rates depend on the doctor who will be on duty. I was charged US$1S0, but others paid as much as US$200 on that same day.
“People are dying because of failure to raise the money. I witnessed five deaths during my admission at the hospital,” said the woman who requested anonymity.
One of the doctors (name supplied) allegedly reported for duty while stone drunk and demanded a top-up of US$30 after he had already been given US$70 by a patient who had long been booked for a Caesarean section.
It is alleged that the patient, Ms Tafadzwa Chasieni, who was already on the theatre table, was kicked out of the theatre by the doctor and a male nurse (name supplied) after she had failed to pay the top-up.
Ms Chasieni had to be rushed to Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital where it was discovered that she had suffered a stillbirth.
The issue went viral on social media last week after she filed a complaint with the hospital’s matron and Dr Muchirewese.
The letter reads: “I, Tafadzwa Chasieni arrived at Sakubva District Hospital at around 12pm. I was told to wait for the doctor and he instructed (sic) for an operation. I was asked to pay US$70 which I paid to the so-called doctor. Up to 5pm, I had not been operated on, with him asking for US$30 from me as an additional top-up. He later told me that he was not going to operate me and asked me to get out of the surgery. That is when I realised that he was drunk . . . ,” wrote the woman.
Contacted for comment, Ms Chasieni’s sister who requested anonymity said the matter is being dealt with by higher authorities and promised to update The Manica Post after the finalisation of the issue.
A hospital staff member who also requested anonymity said the alleged corruption and malpractice has been going on for quite some time at the hospital.
“It has been going on for long now and it has now become quite sickening because most of these women cannot afford the money they are asked to pay. They end up being booted out of the theatre room without receiving any services.
“They are usually transferred to Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital at the last minute. Most of the time it will be too late as some would have suffered stillbirths,” said the staffer.
The Manica Post also unearthed that the hospital staff refuses to use delivery sundries like latex gloves, linen savers and razor blades that the patients bring with them for delivery, despite them being new, and trick the patients into buying from them.
The said sundries which usually go for as little as US$10 in most pharmacies and supermarkets are sold to the expecting mothers for amounts ranging between US$60 and US$100 at the hospital.
To put things into perspective, one pair of gloves cost US$4 at Sakubva District Hospital.
One of the women who recently gave birth at the hospital, Ms Tatenda Manyika said she went to the hospital with new latex gloves, razor blades and linen savers, but was told that she had brought the wrong things.
“My sister offered to go and buy the right things in town but the nurses hurriedly put me under a scan. They told me that my child was already dead and that I had to buy the things from them as l had to be attended to urgently. They said carrying a dead baby is life threatening,” said Ms Manyika.
Ms Manyika said she had to buy the stuff for US$60 from the nurses, even though it was similar to what she had brought to the hospital.
“After paying for the things, the doctor told me that my baby was alive and I delivered a bouncing baby girl. I was shocked because I had been made to believe that I had suffered a stillbirth and it traumatised me,” said Ms Manyika.
However, luck was not on her side.
A day after the operation, the stitches pulled off and pus oozed out of her stomach.
“I went to Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital where I was told that something had been left inside my stomach. I was never told whether it was a foreign object or if it was just excess blood but pus kept coming out.
“I was hospitalized for a month after that and fortunately I managed to survive to tell this sad tale,” said Ms Manyika.