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Katima hospital suffers medicine shortage

The Zambezi regional health directorate has revealed that they are always running out of medicine to effectively treat patients as a result of the central medical store failing to supply them sufficiently.

This was revealed during a meeting between the regional health management and the parliamentary standing committee on health, social welfare and labour affairs on Wednesday at Katima Mulilo District Hospital.

The committee embarked on an oversight visit to the Zambezi region to assess the state of the health facilities and the challenges they face in providing quality health services to the citizens.

Katima Mulilo District Hospital senior pharmacist Muhloro Dziva told the committee the central medical store’s failure to meet their demand is one of the biggest challenges.

He said this was evident in the stock they received last week, because they did not receive everything.

“Last week’s supply was very disappointing. Though it helped us in some areas, a lot of problems still remained. We used to depend on interim orders to get what was not supplied, but our truck broke down two years ago and is still not fixed. Since we are the only hospital, we get a high patient load, and all these patients need medicine to be treated,” he said.

Dziva said the Katima Mulilo Hospital supplies medicine to all 29 clinics in the region, therefore, they need a significant storage capacity.

“Right now, our storage capacity is failing us, and this is while the central medical stores are not even supplying us enough. Therefore, my recommendation would be that we need to separate the hospital from supplying the clinics by having a medical store locally for the clinics. There’s a proposal to open up the pharmacy on a 24-hour basis, but we have staff challenges. Procurement processes are also hampering us from working effectively, as currently we write dosages for patients’ medicines with our hands because we don’t have toner to print instructions,” he said.

The executive director, Ben Nangombe, said he cannot comment on the matter as he is still consulting the technical team and can only do so once he gets a response from them. “You will have a response by tomorrow (today),” he said

Chief environmental health practitioner Yvonne Magwizi told the parliamentary committee the hospital’s malfunctioning incinerator is a health hazard for workers and members of the public.

“When our incinerator was built two years ago, they did not use quality materials, and now it’s breaking down. The steel used to build the chimney is cracking, while improper temperature reticulation is also occurring.

The incinerator door is failing to close properly, resulting in a lot of heat and carbon monoxide going out, exposing the operators.

This improper combustion that is happening is now falling within the hospital premises and affects the staff and general public,” she said.

Acting regional health director Yolanda Lisho mentioned other challenges at the hospital, like the non-responsiveness of infrastructure, which is old and needs to be upgraded, specifically in departments such as the theatre, maternity, and oral health. “The budget for maintenance of infrastructure is inadequate, and as a result, we cannot do much. Offices are not enough to cater to our staff.

We also have a need to recruit and strengthen our staff complement in obesity and gynaecology, paediatrics, family medicine practitioners, physicians and quite a number of nurses,” she said. She said the Katima Mulilo District Hospital has a bed capacity of 308, 10 medical officers, six dentists, 62 registered nurses and 24 enrolled nurses.