Doctors making money in Zimbabwe. Where is the compassion?
I went to see the doctor the other day because I had a little stomach ache and what was initially just a routine check up ended up with me booked into the hospital for a minor operation, much to my horror. The doctor wanted to investigate what was wrong, so she was going to put a telescope inside my stomach or something really scary like that. I agreed to go, but wondered, gees, she hasn’t even tried prescribing something but she wants to open me up, strange. It turns out the procedure was going to cost in excess $2000 in cash, so I concluded that the procedure should really be done as a last resort. So I cancelled the procedure. When I called to cancel and told him why I was cancelling, he told me, how could I get advice from non medical people. “Is your husband a doctor he asked me, so why do you listen to him?”, he asked me. Well thats simple, my husband definitely has my best interests at heart. Interesting enough, he was able to prescribel medication after my refusal to go to surgery. Need I say that I haven’t had a problem since.
While discussing with others I realized that we had all encountered similar situations, with doctors pressurizing patients to have operations that were not really necessary. I realized that Zimbabwean doctors have totally thrown their ethics outside the window and are practicing just to make money. If professionals can do unscrupulous things to get money, where are we going?
During Zimbabwe’s great recession of 2008 I heard a sad story about a little boy who fell onto a steak knife while having dinner with his parents. The knife lodged itself into his face and refused to come out. The parents rushed him to the emergency rooms and were told to bring cash upfront. They went to several hospitals before eventually a compassionate, white doctor took pity on them. By this time he had lost a lot of blood and unfortunately lost his life. I guess doctors and nurses are surrounded by death all day long and have become calloused and cannot feel the pain of death. Certainly they could have seen this little boy on compassionate grounds as the last doctor had done. Surely there is no time to go looking for cash while your son has a knife lodged in his face. How can you turn away a little child with a knife sticking in front of his face and call yourself a doctor?
Another friend had her mother admitted into hospital a few weeks a go and after spending several days in hospital without seeing a doctor, they enquired about where the doctors were. They were told they had to pay the doctor $100 each day for doctors to monitor their mother above the normal hospital bill. Without paying this money daily, the doctors just do their rounds each day while ignoring the patients who have not paid. Mind you these doctors are on a salary, but want a further stipend from the patient before they start doing what they are actually paid for. Imagine how much money each doctor makes for doing his regular rounds.
I remember a great outcry in South Africa when a mother gave birth to a baby outside the clinic. The nurses had told her to go to a maternity facility yet she was already at an advanced stage of labour. She gave birth on the pavement with the help of passers by. The Minister of health, the clinic, nurses and management of the clinic were called in to give an account of what had happened and an enquiry was opened. Needless to say that heads rolled. In Zimbabwe, there is no recourse, nowhere to turn to and no one to listen to you. The medical profession is all about money and if you don’t have any, you will die on the floor of a hospital.
I am sure medical ethics do not work like this. As an aviator one of the first things I learnt was the airman’s creed that spelt out that I was responsible for the lives of those who flew in the aircraft I had worked on. In aviation a saying goes, “Doctors hide their mistakes in the ground, aviators throw them into deep space.”
Life is not really about how much you know or how learned or accomplished you are, at the end of the day, people only want to know how much you care. If you are employed to do a certain job, it is your duty to do it and not to punish the patients because you feel that you are under paid. Volunteer doctors from the West work in rural areas, using their own savings to pay for their upkeep. They work because that is their call in life. Our own doctors can watch as patients die without flinching an eyelid, because their call in life is to MAKE MONEY!
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