NRH should just do the basics

For many years, Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital (NRH) has earned many unsavoury names for its poor service.

It has been called a butchery or slaughter house because of the popular belief that it is a death place and not a cure facility. The service provision is sub-standard and generally not befitting the intended status of a facility of the NRH calibre. There are many reported cases denoting negligence by the hospital staff.

The common excuse by the hospital management for rendering below par service has always been a flimsy one. The NRH say their service level is compromised by the fact that patients choose to overcrowd the hospital’s Accident and Emergency wing, instead of using clinics in their wards. It is the umpteenth time we carry a story of negligence by the facility in this edition.

This week, a villager from Nkange in the North East District told a heart-rending story of negligence by the hospital which allegedly occurred sometime in 2012 as she gave evidence in a civil case. The mother of two has slapped the hospital and the Ministry of Health with a P300,000 suit for negligence. As a result of the alleged negligence, Stella Dube claimed she suffered emotional and psychological pain.

The 39-year-old alleges that a doctor at NRH who attended her negligently left gauze inside her genitals after surgery to remove a cyst in 2012. Dube told the court that a month after her operation, she had not yet healed and pus was coming from the wound. The wound also smelt badly.

Worse, she alleges that her boyfriend abandoned her due to her condition. About five different doctors from NRH and Jubilee clinic attended to her and all simply gave her painkillers.  It took a doctor at a private facility - Riverside Clinic – to discover that there was a foreign object in Dube’s genitalia. If this medic did not intervene, the poor woman would possibly be still struggling with the condition today.

For some reason, there seems to be a similar pattern in the country’s two main referral hospitals - NRH and Princess Marina in Gaborone. One way or the other, they are always engrossed in altercations with their clients over poor service. Considering the tired cliché that a customer is always right, the hospitals must learn lessons from some of the accusations leveled against them.

The NRH superintendent, Dr. Malaki Tshipayagae recently took the media on a guided tour of the hospital exposing members of the fourth estate to the issues of patient care. Tshipayagae’s explanation was no different from his predecessors’ that many people who were supposed to be assisted at local clinics still found their way to NRH without referrals.

A major concern now is that the hospital is seemingly disappointing patients whose suitability for assistance is not in doubt.  The ball now is in Tshipayagae and his team’s court to put their act together. Just do the basics.

Today’s thought

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”


-Mahatma Gandhi

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