MANAGEMENT at Lusaka’s Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital obviously deserves commendation if what Health Deputy Minister Chitalu Chilufya says is anything to go by.
Dr Chilufya yesterday heaped praise on the Lusaka-based hospital for what he called a good patient flow, as well as delivery of quality healthcare services to patients.
According to Dr Chilufya, the Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital management has maintained a conducive, clean and caring environment for the patients who receive treatment there.
The deputy minister was further impressed with the work culture of Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital employees, saying they had really exhibited true professionalism.
This surely is a plus for this hospital’s management and the entire staff, considering that complaints by patients of poor work culture in many hospitals, have become the order of the day.
At some hospitals and clinics, for instance, patients say they have been made to wait from as early as 06:00 hours to anything past 09:00 hours when doctors report for work and start seeing them. OPINION
This contributes to congestion and, in an effort to clear most, not all, patients, some of the sick say not so much attention is paid to them by the doctors in terms of diagnosing their ailments.
When it is lunch break, patients complain that doctors and nurses rush out of their examination rooms and go home to have their meals, leaving some patients unattended, and do not even consider the fact that they reported for work late in the first place.
Patients who visit such hospitals, therefore, return home unsatisfied and the situation is compounded by a lack of medicines on the shelves of many Zambian hospitals and clinics.
This is clearly an artificial shortage created by the continued pilfering of essential drugs by health workers themselves, the practice over which Health Minister Joseph Kasonde expressed concern during yesterday’s Press briefing.
They are, therefore, given prescriptions to buy medicines in chemists in towns and this has proved rather taxing for those patients from low-income groups, for instance.
The attitude of some nurses has also drawn the ire of patients who accuse them of being rude. Instead of caring for their patients, some nurses have instead been accused of doing otherwise which leaves much to be desired.
In extreme cases, nurses have reportedly hurled obscenities at their patients, while some have reportedly gone to the extent of ‘slapping,’ especially those in labour who seemingly show signs of ‘laziness’ when time to deliver gets closer.
But these complaints only come from outpatients. Those who are admitted have further issues of their own to raise, ranging from inadequate bed space to lack of beddings, as well as insufficient or no water at all in some of these institutions.
The latter has brought in yet another health hazard in these facilities, forcing relatives to bring containers of water from home for the patients to drink and for other uses.
The erratic or simply lack of water supply has worsened the sanitary conditions in these health facilities. Besides unhygienic conditions, the toilets of most Government hospitals are badly in need of repair too.
Yes there is no supply of water in some health centres where some taps are broken. In some toilets, there are no taps at all while other lavatories remain locked and no one knows when they were locked.
These lavatories are very dirty, to say the least, and patients use them simply because they have no alternative. Of course sweepers clean them once in a while, but this has not brought them even to minimum acceptable hygiene standards.
Worse, there are no dustbins in some of these conveniences.
This is the situation you find in wards of many hospitals and clinics in the country – including the so-called high-cost wards – but is far from what the Health deputy minister found at Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital.
Assuming such a conducive atmosphere was not simply stage-managed in anticipation of Dr Chilufya’s tour, then it is surely unprecedented and we urge other hospitals to take a leaf from Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital.