Zambia’s appalling health services
By Derrick Sinjela
Despite persistent complaints by Zambians over poor work altitudes and ethics by health personnel in the country, the trend has worsened with most nurses and doctors taking casual approaches to patient need.
Recently, a middle aged woman gave birth in lobby of the University Teaching Hospital (UT) maternity wing on Saturday while waiting to be attended to, a development which incensed.
The incidence happened around 17:30 hours and had to take quick action by visitors covering the woman with Chitenge materials as they waited for health workers to help the expectant mother.
After a while, a nurse appeared and she was seen slowly putting on gloves to join women who were already helping the woman to give birth.
After a while, more nurses appeared on the scene and covered the baby before taking it to the maternity ward. Minutes later the woman was also taken away.
According to women at the entrance of the maternity wing, the pregnant woman had pleaded for medical attention on arrival at the hospital but it took time for health personnel to attend to her.
This apparent reluctance by nurses causing her to deliver on the floor before reaching the ward. The women described the level of negligence shown by nurses was a source of concern as they were putting people’s lives at risk adding that the floor were the woman gave birth was very dirty.
The women regretted that nurses were reluctant to attend to emergency cases such as women in labour, saying in most cases nurses took time to attend to patient even if they could see that the case urgent medical attention.
They alleged that nurses spend most of their time chatting, beautifying themselves and sipping coffee while patient struggle on their own. It is not a first time such a thing is happening in our hospitals.
Two years ago, my brother was seriously ill, at the point of death and we rushed him to the hospital.
What we saw then during the trying moments of my brother was very painful as the nurses showed no concern at all despite the excruciating pain and us paying for medical facilities.
As a result of the negligence by the respective nurses my brother unfortunately died. So really who is to blame for this kind of situation? Is the government doing enough to motivate nurses to do their work competently and energetically?
Usually when workers are demotivated they do not show any concern or interest to their work.The same nurses and doctors who are failing to perform are the same people employed in South Africa where our leaders go for medical attention so what really is a problem?
Government has responsibility to ensure that nurses and doctors work in conducive environments, with tempting conditions of service because they deal with human life.
The reason why the nurses have a negative attitude towards work is because they are not well remunerated. This challenge can be dealt with the budgetary allocation increased budgetary allocations to the health sector.
When Michael Chilufya Sata was Health Minister in late Chiluba regime (1991 to 2001), he used to frequent public hospitals making on spot check of health personnel. At some point, Sata almost dismissed the entire University Teaching Hospital Management on account of coming late for work and failure to operate efficiently.
To increase efficiency in the health sector, the late Sata ordered female nurses to wear trousers. According to Sata, dresses as uniforms were making nurses ineffective. In his view, working suits made them function according to expected levels of medical personnel.
The reforms to the health sector and his no nonsense factor made Sata one of the best Health Ministers Zambia has ever seen.