Harare Central Hospital (HCC), has been hit by a critical drug shortage forcing authorities to suspend all surgical operations as one the country’s major referral hospitals attempts to restock, NewsDay can reveal.
The situation is said to be so dire that only a few critical departments such as maternity, CEPOD emergencies and Intensive Care Unit (ICU), have been spared but the rest of the patients will have to consult private hospitals.
According to a memorandum from HOD Anaesthetics, a Dr HN Chifamba, dated September 16 2016, HCC has run dry of the critical drugs required for elective surgeries among them morphine, pethidine, antibiotics as well as the widely available bicarbonate soda.
The letter was addressed to all the hospital’s consultants, and copied to the clinical director, the chief executive officer, principal nursing officer, theatre matron and board chairperson a Dr Ndowa.
“Due to the critical shortages of pethidine, injectable morphine, fentanyl, adrenaline, sizes 3.0, 3.5, 4.5, 6.5, 7.0, 7.5 ETT, metoclopramide, sodium bicarbonate and antibiotics, it was decided after consultation with the Clinical Director, Heads of Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Consultant Anaesthetics that we suspend all elective surgeries for the time being,” Chifamba wrote.
The head of department anaesthetics said the hospital would only concentrate with surgeries on maternity, CEPOD emergencies and ICU, while taking the opportunity (of suspending surgical operations) to train nurses on the use of morphine and tramadol injection for post-operative pain.
“This is to allow the hospital to restock on these essential items. We will also use this opportunity to train nurses on the wards on the use of morphine and tramadol injection for post-operative pain. These (morphine and tramadol) are going to be the backbone of post-operative pain management henceforth,” the memo read.
However, Chifamba said the drug stock situation would be reviewed in the middle of next week as the administration, finance department and pharmacy, were making frantic efforts to restock the pharmacy.
As the situation stands, patients would have to make-do with private hospitals, which most Zimbabweans cannot afford due to high costs.