Bad payer, bad service
MBABANE – An acute shortage of medical supplies has put patie-nts, particularly diabetics in severe danger in the country’s largest referral hospital.
The Mbabane Government Hospital turns away diabetic patients because medical personnel cannot ascertain their sugar levels, a requirement for every diabetic before any medication can be prescribed or even administered.
The dire situation at the hospital was confirmed by personnel.
However, an attempt to obtain comments from senior pharmacist Thuli Magagula, proved futile as numerous attempts were made to locate her but to no avail.
For purposes of monitoring diabetes, blood sugar levels are ascertained using a gadget called glucostics.
Zintombi Maseko*, 45, lamented the situation, saying it was digging deep into their pockets, as patients, since they were left with no other alternative but to go to commercial medical facilities for assistance.
"Diabetes is a delicate medical condition. One should not make any mistake with this particular ailment," she said.
She described the unavailability of glucostics at the hospital as very dangerous for diabetics, saying the authorities needed to urgently take up the issue ‘before someone dies.’
Nurses revealed that the hospital had been without this gadget for the past four months or so. The Times SUNDAY spoke to at least four nurses who all issued corroborative statements.
"This is a headache for us. You know how traumatic it can be to turn back a patient because of a lack of medication or equipment," said one staffer.
She said the situation was making their lives as caretakers very difficult.
"You can’t call yourself a helper when there is nothing you can do for your clients, it’s a hopless situation," she said.
Another nurse said the situation posed serious danger for the diabetics whose medical condition demands that they follow a strict management and treatment regime. She also highlighted that the problem of medical supplies was not only confined to diabetic people alone as other ailments like high blood pressure were also affected.
Moreover, she said, they were also faced with a serious problem for medication which is administered through injection because the hospital also lacked vital equipment as syringes, cotton for cleaning patients prior to administering an injection.
Another drug, which is lacking at the hospital is Phenegan, which is used as an intervention and patients suffering from nausea. This has left patients with no other alternative except to source prescribed medication from pharmaceutical establishments in town, which charge higher prices.
Nqobile Mkhumane, a pharmacist at Philani pharmacy at the Swazi Plaza in Mbabane, also concurred that they had of late experienced a heavy influx of patients coming directly from the Mbabane Government Hospital.
She said about 50 per cent of their clientele constitute patients coming to their establishment because they could not get any assistance from the hospital.
"I have noted a sharp increase in patients seeking medication for high blood pressure," she said, noting that it was easy to identify any variation from sales of such medication because high blood pressure was a serious medical condition that also demands strict monitoring procedures.
Diabetes is a medical condition which is triggered by a change in one’s blood glucose, or sugar levels. The human body derives its glucose from the food we eat. Glucose is important in the body as a source of energy.
To convert food into glucose, the body utilises a hormone called insulin.
Diabetes is classified into two categories, namely Type I and II.
With type I, the patient’s body does not make insulin at all, while in type II the problem is that the body is either not making enough insulin or does not utilise it well.
Type II is the most common type and the symptoms include fatigue, thirst, weight loss, blurred vision and frequent urination. Some people though may be without any of the above mentioned symptoms but still have the condition, which can lead to delayed diagnoses.
To ascertain whether one is diabetic or not, a blood test needs to be conducted. Once a person is diagnosed with diabetes, they are advised to follow a strict control and management of their condition in order to reduce the risk of developing complications.
Normally, controlling one’s situation entails keeping blood sugar within acceptable levels.
To control blood sugar, a common intervention is to administer insulin to the patients, which is usually done through injection or through a pump that provides continuous below the skin infusion of the hormone.
*Name changed because she requested anonymity.
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