By Paidamoyo Chipunza
More than half of patients who visited the five referral health institutions during the month-long junior doctors strike found no doctor in attendance, a recent electronic survey carried out by the United Nations Children’s Fund has revealed.
The assessment, which was carried out under Unicef’s U-Report tool, sampled 4 170 respondents from which 1 418 reported having visited either Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals (21,2 percent), Chitungwiza (14,7 percent), Harare (15,2 percent), Mpilo (39 percent) or United Bulawayo Central Hospitals (9,9 percent) in the past three weeks. Forty-three percent of those who were attended to by a doctor reported that the wait was too long before they received a service and a further 8,3 percent reported having been turned away. The majority of the patients visited the outpatients, maternity and emergency departments. Unicef’s chief of health and nutrition Mr Nejmudin Kedir Bilal said the U-Report tool was an innovation to gather opinions, concerns, comments and feedback on health and social services.
He said health was one of Unicef’s major priorities particularly in areas of maternal, new born child and adolescent (young people) health through the Health Development Fund (HDF).
“What makes it (U-Report) unique is the fact that it helps to obtain the demand/user/client side of information for which there are no many instruments out there,” said Mr Bilal.
He said since Unicef manages the HDF, which is one of the major sources of funding for Zimbabwe’s health systems, it was also important for the Agency to obtain regular feedback from beneficiaries to enable it to monitor the performance of the health systems.