BULAWAYO, Saturday, October 6, 1991 — A Bulawayo man who was struck with an axe on Monday was denied immediate medical treatment at Mpilo Central Hospital because he could not prove he was unemployed.
The man, Lucky Mkhandla, of Lower Rangemore said he was axed during a dispute and was taken to Mpilo Central Hospital where he was turned away because he could not pay $27 required for x-ray.
However, the medical superintendent of the hospital, Dr Naboth Chaibva, said the gravity and seriousness of each patient’s case was weighed and a decision was made accordingly.
“The man you refer to was sent away obviously because after assessment, his case was not considered an emergency”, said Dr Chaibva.
“We attend to all emergency cases, and if for example, a patient comes to us unconscious, we can not ask him or her whether she can afford to pay or not”.
Dr Chaibva said the Ministry of Health made it clear that it was not the duty of health officers to decide who should pay or not.
He said that the onus was on the patients to prove that they earned less than $120 per month to get free treatment. In cases where arrangements had been made for patients to pay later, he said most of them defaulted and the ministry was owed thousands of dollars in outstanding medical bills, which had to be collected from such people.
When contacted for comment, the Minister for Health, Dr Timothy Stamps, said the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs should also strike an understanding with casualty departments at hospitals.