Rats feast on corpses at state hospital mortuary

mortuaryBULAWAYO One of Zimbabwes biggest state hospitals, Mpilo Central Hospital, can barely function after the government allocated it a paltry US$3 600 to cover costs for six months compared to US$115 000 dollars the institution requires to pay bills and other costs in a single month.

Authorities said conditions at Mpilo, the biggest referral centre in the southern half of the country, had crumbled because of a shortage of funds with the state of decay at the institution vividly illustrated by the old hospital mortuary overcrowded with corpses and infested by rats.

The mortuary is said to carry at any given time more than 10 times the number of bodies it was designed to hold while senior officials said there have been cases when corpses were found nibbled at by rats.

The rats are a menace and they are blocking the compressor for the mortuary and we are appealing for funds so that we can fumigate the entire hospital, said Mpilo director of operations Duduza Moyo, speaking as Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara toured the hospital at the weekend to assess conditions.

Mpilo chief executive Lindiwe Mlilo told Mutambara that her institution did not have cash to provide food for patients, laundry, blankets, uniforms, medicines or basically everything anyone would expect a hospital to provide its patients.

Mutambara toured hospital wards where many toilets had broken down ages ago. He toured the overcrowded old mortuary and also visited the new mortuary that has been under construction since 2000.

Hospital authorities told Mutambara that Treasury had not allocated more funds for completion of the new mortuary.

The collapse of Zimbabwes public health sector once a shining example to Africa reflects the decayed state of the countrys key infrastructure and institutions after a decade of acute recession.

Thousands of doctors and nurses have fled the southern African country over the past decade to seek better paying jobs in neighbouring countries, Europe and other far away places further straining a public health sector that was already on its knees due to under-funding, drugs shortage and an overload of HIV/AIDS cases.

A unity government formed last February by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has promised to revive the economy and to restore health, education and other basic services.

But the administration could fail to deliver on its promise to revive Zimbabwe unless it is able to unlock vital financial support from Western donor governments that have remained reluctant to provide aid until they see evidence that Mugabe is committed to genuinely share power with Tsvangirai. ZimOnline

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