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MBABANE – There are no doctors at the OPD!

This message was relayed to patients yesterday before being turned back at the outpatient department (OPD) of the Mbabane Government Hospital, due to the unavailability of doctors. It has been gathered that the lone doctor who was supposed to be on duty had fallen sick. Such a message did not sit well with the over 100 patients who had hoped to be treated for various ailments. It was gathered from sources, that patients in possession of test results had been told to come to the hospital for an appointment with the doctor. According to a reliable source, the OPD unit operates with two doctors on a normal day.


This was not the first time that patients were not attended to by the doctors due to various reasons. Previously, nurses highlighted that they were only attending to the patients from morning until 1pm and thereafter attended online lectures. This meant that patients were left without doctors, no matter how pressing their health conditions were, until the following day.
Nurses had to watch patients going through excruciating pain. Other nurses started prescribing medication to some patients. Those with serious conditions that required the doctors’ attention were told to come yesterday to see the medical doctor in person. One of the patients lamented to the Times reporters that she had travelled from far, only to be told she could not see a doctor.

She said she had been referred from Mkhuzweni Health Centre to the Mbabane Government Hospital due to the nature of her illness. “It is so disappointing to come to one of the largest government hospitals in the country, only to find that there is not even a single medical doctor at the OPD. Is government trying to kill us? When will the health crisis come to an end in the country?” asked the aggrieved patient. The aggrieved patient further said coming back to Mbabane to submit her test results today would be costly for her. Zanele Sibanyoni from Lavumisa, said she had hired a taxi, which cost her E800, to take her sick mother to Mbabane Government Hospital after failing to get help at Matsanjeni Health Centre, only to be told that the doctor was not at work. “Asicatjangelwa lapha. Why didn’t they inform us on time that the medical doctor would  be off-duty today? My mother’s condition is getting worse day by day and she needs a doctor’s attention before I go back home. What is happening is not fair,” said Sibanyoni.

This reporter left the government hospital at around 12.30pm and came back at around 2.30pm to find the situation still the same. It was said that no medical doctor had reported for work the whole day at the OPD. Some hospital staff alleged that it was difficult to find a doctor on Wednesdays. “Every Wednesday, there is no medical doctor that is attending to patients, more especially in the OPD unit. Even the daily hospital’s schedule indicates that no doctor is supposed to come through to attend to the patients,” alleged the source. The source said patients desperately in need of a medical doctor must do themselves a favour by coming to the hospital today. The source was responding to questions on what would happen to those patients that were supposed to submit their test results to the doctor for verification purposes.

On the other hand, the Director of Health, Dr Velephi Okello, said she was going to investigate the reasons behind the doctors’ unavailability at the OPD unit. She said it might happen that there were genuine reasons. Okello was responding to questions on whether the ministry was aware that patients were being turned back at the Mbabane Government Hospital OPD.
“There is nothing I can say for now, pending the outcome of our investigations. There might be other reasons that led to such occurrence, which I need to find out,” said Okello.


The director said nurses were allowed to prescribe medication to patients, despite the fact that some were expected to be first examined by doctors. She was responding to questions that the doctors’ unavailability led to some nurses prescribing medication. “What they did is allowed because they are trained to do so. This happens even in clinics. So, even here at the hospital nurses know the kind of medication they are supposed to prescribe,” she said. Seeing nurses prescribe medication relieves unnecessary burden, which the medical doctor might find themselves in. “Some patients only come for a refill and that can be done by trained nurses,” Okello explained.

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