Howard Hospital Special 26-09-12

Nurses working with Dr Paul Thistle at Howard Hospital

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Alex Bell hosts a special programme focusing on the fate of the Salvation Army run Howard Hospital in Chiweshe, since the chief doctor Paul Thistle was dismissed. Alex speaks to Dr. Michael Silverman, the chief coordinator of the Interfaith Friends of Howard Hospital group, which has warned that there is a looming humanitarian crisis in Chiweshe.

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Canadian born Salvation Army doctor, Paul Thistle was dismissed in August 2012 under unclear circumstances, a decision that led to violent protests by outraged Chiweshe residents. The Hospital was left to run at limited capacity, and many patients were either turned away or discharged without full care, because Dr. Thistle was the chief doctor and only surgeon there.

The doctor was given 24 hours to leave the hospital and then 48 hours to leave Zimbabwe, with no explanation from the Salvation Army other than that the decision was apart of ‘internal processes’. He has been barred from the hospital, but is refusing to leave the country while a criminal case hangs over eight of his colleagues, who were arrested and charged with ‘inciting violence’ during the protests in Chiweshe.

An international network of doctors and supporters has since been trying to convince the Salvation Army to reinstate Dr. Thistle because of the looming crisis his absence has created. The Interfaith Friends of Howard Hospital group has had several meetings with the Salvation Army, both in Dr. Thistle’s native Canada and at the international headquarters in London.

But according to the group’s chief coordinator, Dr. Michael Silverman, the Salvation Army has reneged on promises it made to the group to first undergo a review of the situation at Howard Hospital, before making a final decision about Dr. Thistle’s fate. He said they have reiterated their position that Dr. Thistle must leave Zimbabwe by October 5th, despite a replacement only meant to take over at Howard Hospital in December.

“It just doesn’t make any sense. They haven’t given any explanation why he has to leave. I believe it is something internal in the Church, but they haven’t made anything clear,” Dr. Silverman said.

He explained that the situation is likely linked to a financial grant Dr. Thistle had secured for the Howard mission, which was then withdrawn because the Zim leadership of the Salvation Army refused to adhere to transparent accounting for the money. The leadership, which is believed to be heavily influenced by Joice Mujuru as a senior Salvation Army member, said it did not need to account for how the money would be spent.



Related stories

Howard Hospital saga continues with arrest of visiting Canadians

Chiweshe nurses back in court over Howard Hospital saga

Salvation Army ‘causing humanitarian disaster’ in Zim



One Responseto “Howard Hospital Special 26-09-12”

  1. Chimbwido Warvet says:

    A single doctor who got the chop for his misdemeanour bordering on felony, can not bring about ‘a looming humanitarian crisis’ at this hospital. This is sensational journalism, stupid and uncalled for.
    Howard hospital has been in existence for close to sixty years without Dr Paul Thistle and will soldier on in his absence as there are other doctors who have already filled the void. If a foreign doctor does not follow the laws of the country, he is simply deported to his country of origin. As far as Zimbabwe is concerned, it does not matter whether a doctor comes from Canada, United States, Britain or Germany. What matters to us is whether during his privileged stay in this beautiful country, he is abiding by the laws of the country. If not, it doesn’t matter to us whether he has been the best doctor for any hospital in this country. This is the norm all over the world but when these guys come to an African country, always think are above the laws of the country. Tough luck for Dr Paul Thistle if he thought he could enjoy the weather of Zimbabwe for more years to come. Home for Dr Paul Thistle, Canada, is too too cold.

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