By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
22 April 2014
The family of a cancer patient, who is reported to have died just hours after being released from a major referral hospital, has said he might still be alive had he not been detained and allowed to continue his treatment elsewhere.
Tauya Shumba lost his fight against liver cancer on Saturday night, a few hours after Harare Central Hospital finally released him from detention over an unpaid bill of $227, according to the Daily News newspaper.
The family had offered to pay $80, out of a minimum required down-payment of $150, and the balance at the end of the month. But hospital officials chose to detain him instead. The Daily News said he was released after they initiated an inquiry into his case.
Several relatives told the paper that they believed Tauya might have survived if he had been released shortly after the hospital discharged him last Thursday. He had been in hospital for a week.
“We wanted to take him back to Karanda Hospital with the tests results but they chose to detain him over money as if we had refused to pay,” Tauya’s older brother, Ignatius, is quoted as saying.
He added: “The hospital is just rotten; they gave us an embarrassing prescription which we had to take back for correction after a pharmacy in Avondale said it was impossible to sell 16 milligrams of codeine without knowing the duration of treatment.”
Conditions at Harare Central, like most hospitals in Zimbabwe, have deteriorated and are said to be appalling, with many patients sleeping on the floor and shortages of staff and basic medicines affecting the quality of care.
In addition, many skilled physicians have left the country and government officials often seek treatment in South Africa, without doing anything to improve the situation at home.
Tauya leaves two young children behind. The Daily News said he would be buried Tuesday in Mberengwa.