Women asked to wash clinic linen af­ter de­liv­ery

Women who give birth at Mutare District Coun­cil clin­ics wash the linen used dur­ing the de­liv­ery of their ba­bies.

The Manica Post - - Local News - Dor­cas Mhungu Post Cor­re­spon­dent

IN THE event that a mother is un­well or is weak, they are asked to bring along rel­a­tives to wash the linen. Over­all, the preg­nant women in­ter­viewed ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment about wash­ing the green tow­els and un­hy­gienic con­di­tions pre­vail­ing at the coun­cil-run clin­ics in Man­i­ca­land.

Women who live far from the clin­ics wait at the clin­ics un­til they de­liver their ba­bies. The moth­ers wait­ing room at Odzi leaves a lot to be de­sired.

Bed linen is not changed when the pa­tients leave af­ter de­liv­ery and the next per­son who comes uses the same linen. Dirty linen was on the beds when Man­ica Post went to in­ves­ti­gate.

Vis­its to some of the clin­ics also ex­posed un­healthy prac­tices and con­di­tions not only for preg­nant women but other pa­tients and staff work­ing at the clin­ics.

The clin­ics do not have run­ning wa­ter for pa­tients and vis­i­tors to wash their hands and at Zimunya Clinic. When this news­pa­per went to in­ves­ti­gate we found that the pub­lic toi­lets have old bro­ken flush­ing sys­tem and squat toi­lets that are not flash­ing. The taps have no run­ning wa­ter.

Chi­takatira Clinic in Chigodora has only one small tank with used by ex­pect­ing moth­ers, pa­tients drink­ing wa­ter, clinic hy­giene and staff houses. There was no run­ning wa­ter fol­low­ing a week-long power out­age.

Res­i­dents said the wa­ter is pumped by ZINWA to the clinic and it takes a while to fill up tanks that sup­ply the clinic.

All the three clin­ics vis­ited by Man­ica Post faced wa­ter chal­lenge af­fect­ing the clin­ics and poses a se­ri­ous health haz­ard.

“The wa­ter runs out at the clinic and the women go to bath and do their laun­dry at Odzi River and it’s a dis­tance from the clinic and the river is in­fested with crocodiles,” said a woman who pre­ferred to re­main anony­mous.

The two beds in the de­liv­ery room at Chi­takatira Clinic have bro­ken hind legs a sit­u­a­tion that is very un­safe con­sid­er­ing that women writhe, twist and turn in pain when in labour.

One of the beds has bro­ken leg guides. “Some moth­ers get over­whelmed by the labour pain and with­out the leg guides, the nurses re­ally strug­gle to keep their legs open,” an el­derly woman said.

Over­grown grass is ev­i­dent as well as the en­closed waste zone where there is the in­cin­er­a­tor, bot­tle pit and the pit where pla­cen­tas are dumped. The rusted han­dle for the bot­tle pit is bro­ken.

The toi­lets at Odzi Clinic are dirty and rusty hand wash­ing basin. There is a sewer stench com­ing from a leak­ing sewer pipe near the re­cep­tion area.

Mutare Ru­ral District Coun­cil clin­ics are un­der­staffed with sup­port staff for many years now and hence the over­grown grounds at some of the clin­ics.

Clin­ics are op­er­at­ing with­out staff to clean the premises and nurse aids and the rea­son why moth­ers are now wash­ing hospi­tal linen.

The prob­lem has been com­pounded by the in­flux of pa­tients from ur­ban ar­eas seek­ing free ma­ter­nity ser­vices and shun­ning ur­ban clin­ics who charge $35.

Asked to com­ment, Mutare Ru­ral District Coun­cil CEO, Shep­herd Chi­naka said: “Its re­gret­table but, there is noth­ing much we can do.”

He said the five peri-ur­ban clin­ics; Burma Val­ley, Chi­takatira, Zimunya, Rowa and Odzi, run by the Coun­cil do not have sup­port staff (grounds­men and nurse aids.)

Mr Chi­naka also said the staff short­age chal­lenge is com­pounded by the fact that pa­tients liv­ing in ur­ban ar­eas flock to these peri-ur­ban clin­ics be­cause they of­fer free med­i­cal ser­vice.

“So, peo­ple are trav­el­ling to these clin­ics to get treat­ment and fur­ther putting strain on the un­der­staffed clin­ics. The ideal sit­u­a­tion is to have two qual­i­fied nurses plus two un­qual­i­fied staff con­sist­ing a nurse aid and a grounds man at each clinic but due to bud­getary con­straints the sup­port staff is not there. As coun­cil we do not have the au­thor­ity to hire the staff.”

The CEO also said the staff short­age has been pre­vail­ing for three years now. “We have ap­plied to the Min­istry of Health and we are wait­ing for au­thor­ity to en­gage those peo­ple (sup­port staff). We are also very con­cerned but our hands are tied up. These peo­ple are paid by Gov­ern­ment,” Mr Chi­naka said.

He also con­firmed that the bot­tle pit and in­cin­er­a­tor at Chi­takatira ur­gently need re­place­ment, “but the grant that we get from Re­sult Based Fi­nanc­ing (RBF) is not enough to re­place, ren­o­vate or put up a new struc­ture.”

On the is­sue of bro­ken wheels of de­liv­ery beds, Mr Chi­naka said they should have been fixed say­ing the RBF funds are there to fix them.

He said Odzi Clinic staff short­age is a des­per­ate one. “Prac­ti­cally, the nurses can’t cope. The clinic is serv­ing a very large area in­clud­ing peo­ple from sur­round­ing farms. The clas­si­fi­ca­tion of Odzi Clinic is also un­clear. Mr Chi­naka said. “It is yet to be pro­nounced whether Odzi Clinic is a coun­cil or Gov­ern­ment clinic.”

On moth­ers wash­ing hospi­tal linen used on them dur­ing de­liv­ery, Mr Chi­naka con­firmed the prac­tice say­ing the cur­rent staff short­ages has forced the coun­cil to ask moth­ers to wash the linen or urges them to bring along rel­a­tives who will wash the linen. “If we had ad­e­quate staff we would do it (wash­ing the linen used by moth­ers dur­ing de­liv­ery) our­selves,” Mr Chi­naka said. Man­i­ca­land Pro­vin­cial Med­i­cal Direc­tor, Pa­tron Mafaune asked to com­ment on the cri­sis said: “I can­not com­ment, I am not the right per­son to com­ment.”

Soiled linen on the bed used by a pre­vi­ous pa­tient that will be used by the next pa­tient at Odzi Clinic. In­set: A filthy wash basin at Odzi Clinic. —Pic­tures: Dor­cas Mhungu

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