Wednesday, April 17, 2024

When Greed Meets Incompetence, Nations Fail

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 A Bathroom at UTH
A Bathroom at UTH

By H Moono

I had the longest chat with a medical practitioner of specialist skills who, unreservedly poured out his frustrations on me, perhaps because he thought I was either a politician who could help bring to light the challenges facing our health system or that perhaps I could relay his concerns.

As I am not a politician, I will relate the message to all, and hope that the relevant policy makers do the right things. I will share the verbatim chat.

“Mr. Moono, I can see you are an angry man right now. You probably think we doctors at UTH are useless and lazy or that we probably don’t love our jobs. You probably are thinking of perhaps taking your patient to South Africa, or India – if you have money or if your relatives are big politicians. But I can tell you, we are not lazy here at UTH. I am sure you know how hard first it is to get into medical school. I am also sure you know how long it takes to successfully complete a medical degree and further take on higher specialisations. The doctors you see here are hardworking people, people that have dedicated their lives to saving the lives of others.” Said Dr. J, a specialist who spends his time on the operating table attending to complex surgical procedures.

Lets take a walk, I want to show you something. We left the briefing room and went out towards the casualty ward and then out.

“Do you see that?” he said, pointing at some heavy construction work taking place at UTH.
“Yes I can see, expansion programme of the hospital, to increase bed capacity I suppose?” I responded.

“No! No! No!” Said Dr. J.
“What you see is no expansion programme to increase bed capacity to reduce congestion in wards, no. It’s no expansion programme to create further laboratories or operating theatres. No!”

“What is it then?” I asked

“What you see Mr. Moono is the ultimate level of the rot of your leadership! The entire health planning system in the country, with all the congestion at UTH, saw it fit to prioritize the construction of what it calls an Ultra Modern Car Park! Yes, this mega structure, this mega project that is costing government millions of US Dollars, from the Eurobond, is a car park! How an entire health governance system can prioritise the construction of a modern car park at a hospital which looks like a war zone has shocked me and my team. But you see, I am just a simple surgeon, I don’t make decisions. Yesterday we had to cancel our scheduled surgeries because there is no water at UTH.

Yes, there is no water, I am sure you have seen for yourself. And yet, this your government sees it fit to prioritise a car park over efficient water reticulation at the hospital it calls a level 3 hospital, the highest referral hospital in the entire country. Our labs have no reagents, yet with have many lab technicians on full salaries. Why do you think private labs are mushrooming throughout Lusaka? Here at UTH we are referring patients for simple tests to private labs because we have no simple things like reagents. And yet, you have a million dollar car park under construction! This just a peak of the rot iceberg that runs through our political governance system.

Ask yourself, Mr. Moono, how many brand new Prados, V8 and V10 and these brand new Jeeps have you seen with GRZ number plates today? Even if it is a weekend perhaps countless times! Now tell me, how much does a brand new jeep cost? A Prado? Not less than $200,000! Over K2 million is spent on these luxury government vehicles whose role is nothing to transport obese politicians filled with greed and gluttony. That is why, to them, it makes sense to prioritise a car park and an almost dysfunctional hospital, because they care so much about their vehicles than they care for you, the patients and the attending physicians.

Think about it, what does it benefit a patient to have a state of the art multi-million dollar car park at a hospital without reagents for proper diagnostics? A hospital with dilapidated bathrooms? This is just rotten thinking!

We are a country that fails to pay workers on time. Life for our patients is unbearable. Yet, we imagine ourselves as having too much money to prioritise the construction of a car park over water supply. We have a political class that is completely incapable of rising to the challenge facing our country’s health needs. Our hospital is crumbling all around us, but no one seems to care much. What you see at UTH is the shrunken ambition which mirrors the shrunken ambitions of our leaders. It is painful to see many die from easily treatable diseases, which we cannot treat because government doesn’t seem to prioritise this.

I am an African, but I have trained outside the continent and each time I think about it, I can’t help but ask myself: Why do Africans hate each other so much? Why is the African greed so evil that even leaders would bask in the glory of the ill health of its citizens and mock them with ‘loans’ at election time? This rot, this greed in governance must come to an end. We cannot always blame politicians when we are the ones who elect them to office.

The standards at UTH have deteriorated over the years, frustrating even the most dedicated and loyal Zambian doctors that want to practice in this country. I love my job as a surgeon, but I am let down and incapacitated by the politicians. I am at the mercy of politicians. When we voice our concerns, they tell us to shut up and go to the wards and theatres. But how can I work in the wards without proper equipment and medication? How can we serve and save patients when the conditions seem to be that of abattoir? That is why patients have lost faith in us. They would rather go for prayers to a con man’s church and be swindled of their hard earned money than come to the hospital for healing because the government just doesn’t seem to care!

These your leaders, when they get sick, they only come here for a referral to South Africa or India or Israel. Why don’t they make the conditions at UTH similar to those of India or Israel? Do you know the answer? Its greed! They want to be the ones to get the best health care and not everyone else. Yet, you and I are the ones paying for all these bills.

All I can say Mr. Moono is with the current environment, each time I am in the theatre I pray, I pray that power does not go. I pray that if it does, there is enough diesel to run the generators. Then I pray also, that the water supply can be maintained just for a few more hours to allow my 4 hour surgical procedure to be successful. Then ultimately, I pray more so that my patient survives. In the end, perhaps we should all stop these surgeries and start praying for healing, because your leaders have let us down.”

I thanked the surgeon for his honesty, and I asked him to pray for me and my brother.

As I left his office, I broke down in anger. Then I saw a Zambia Police officer walk past, I held my cool fearing for my life.
How long shall we suffer? I don’t know, perhaps God has the answer soon.

A toilet at UTH
A toilet at UTH
A toilet at UTH
A toilet at UTH

59 COMMENTS

  1. When I visited Zambia. I went to UTH, aunt was not well. I cried when I saw the status of UTH. I have never seen so many people bundled in a ward like that whereby you can not walk without stepping on another person sleeping on the floor. The bathroom, water splash, leaking pipes. The elevator was not working so you have to use stirs. I cried my beloved country.
    I realized that the whole development I saw, of malls, roads, hotels etc were just plastic surgery. That development is nothing if UTH is in this status. I have never seen that before. It was bad. very bad. We preach how to be good yet we are not getting good.

    • The reason you need to go to that country again in August so that you cast your vote…wisely this time.

    • Our politicians are selfish, including Edgar Lungu who when just after getting into State house had to use state resources to go to South Africa for an operation because according to Doctors here, they could not carry out the surgical procedure. His collapsing and lack of capacity to be treated in Zambia should have motivated him to fix and equip UTH and indeed other hospitals…. but no, the president would rather fry in private jets and sleep in $50,000/night rooms in France.

      And I agree with the Dr. our politicians are obsessed with cars, they buy cars at K2,000,000 and later purchase the same vehicles at K35,000, that carpark at UTH is a waste of money, they would have used that money to expand and equip UTH to hand complicated cases. but these people don’t care, they can go to SA…

    • LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, NOW IS THE TIME FOR ZAMBIA TO BE SERIOUS ON GOVERNANCE ISSUES. WE ARE ALL AWARE THAT PF GOVERNMENT CAME TO POWER ONLY TO TO EAT, STEAL AND PLAY. LUNGU AND HIS MINIONS ARE NOT SERIOUS IN WANTING TO DEVELOP OUR COUNTRY. LUNGU AND HIS PF MINIONS ARE SIMPLY TIME FILLERS AND TIME WASTERS. WE ALL NEED TO STAND UP AND KICK THEM OUT THIS AUGUST. DON.T BE DECEIVED BY LUNGU AND PF LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. HH AND UPND CAN GIVE US A MUCH BETTER LEADERSHIP TO STIMULATE ECONOMIC GROWTH AND TO BETTER THE LIVES OF OUR PEOPLE. ABASH LUNGU! VIV HH!

    • For speaking the truth and reducing PF ambitions, the surgeon will be tracked down and deported… unfortunately.

    • A dedicated hardworking govt is good but an alert & proactive citizenry is even better. Like the good Doc has said these politicians come from amongst ourselves. For as long as we just watch them they will always mess up. Whoever we elect on 11/08 we need to hold by a leash so he has no room to pontificate over us. He should work for us. He shouldn’t come to tell us 90 days yali amapinda.

    • Made me cry, Why Africa, Yet they are building roads that lead to nowhere. wonder at times if these guys supporting EL and PF are for real or what.
      Lets get these guys out and try something else.

    • With the current ruling thieves, there’s no money in repairing toilets and water systems. That’s why they made the car park which should have cost millions of dollars..

    • The so called surgeon is another hallucinating cheap fellow equally the writer of the article Harryman Moono, the young man is a misguided economist like his god HH.

      LT no news here next item please…

  2. zambian doctors are among the highest paid in the southern african region. and today they are part of key decision makers, i.e at cabinet office, in parley and the entire moh is drs. so if this story has really been narrated by a doc then they are part of the rot.

    • George I agree 100%. The MOH is all Zambian doctors in policy and decision making positions who at the same time give health related technical advice to the politicians. Same lot

  3. I even the doc who likes saying such things. It’s just propaganda. The project us not only abt the car park. There is a modern casualty which he deliberately does not want to talk about. For some of us who frequent uth u can agree that it has been a nightmare to find a parking lot. Let us learn to appreciate what the govt is doing. Look at the road past uth. Please be real

    • We never learn , a ma on the ground is telling you what the problem is and you are there trying sugar coat the story. There must be something wring with you head.

    • Derby
      For your car park, 10 pipo are dying per day because of other shortages at UTH. Good priorotisation PF.

    • Your inability to find a parking space is a first sign of too many people in admission and that in itself must give a clue to the congestion one would meet in the wards! The chaos one experiences outside on getting to UTH should be indicative of something not just right at the institution! There are supposed to be lesser people in hospital than there are now! UTH due to lack of planning is just a huge hospice!

    • Did you just say building a car park is priority over water and sanitation, and more bed space? Sad.

  4. This is what i have been shouting for years. I am glad someone else has also witnessed and voiced out the rotten thinking by politicians.

  5. True, nothing is perfect at uth. Come to think of it, not even at private hospitals. But how many doctors are running Ministry of Health? Maybe our hardworking surgeon who spends his time giving guided tours instead of attending to patients is also trying to seek an office at the ministry. This is the perfect time….some parties are still adopting candidates!

  6. Perhaps out-sourcing can help. When the company fails to deliver, then contract is terminated and the company is replaced by a more efficient company. You are being economical on solutions. What solution works in your own experience? It is intriguing and frustrating but the answer my friend is blowing in the wind…

  7. EVEN WHEN YOU HAVE A POT HOLE IN YOUR PASSAGE YOU BLAME GOVT KA? …..ZAMBIANS

    YOU HIT INTO A STTREET POLE LIGHT WEEEKS LATER YOU ARE BLAMING GOVT……ZAMBIA FOR YOU.

    AT LEAST THEIRS IS PROOF OF HAVING BEEN / WAS A TOILET WHICH WASN’T LOOKED AFTER WELL/ USED PROPERLY BY EITHER YOU. MR. MOONO OR ME AT ONE TIME.

    LOL

  8. This is what P.F. Cadres & boneheads’ call development, ati “P.F nafuchi nafuchi”
    This is the sole reason we Black Africans are underdeveloped coz brain dead Cadres commenting on these issues call people “bitter” if they highlight the Rot that has set in with this morally bankruptcy P.F, regime

  9. We have a big problem in Zambia we behave like Congolese.We believe in artificial development and our blood is tainted with corruption.Our pride lies in showing off what make of a car iam driving even when I can not service it.Drinking beer in night clubs and showing off our new girlfriends to our coligues is the order of the day.In order to sustain such a life style we have engaged into corruption and theft.Coruption is slowly becoming part of our culture and soon the whole country will be plunged in un fore told misery and poverty.This is the reason why I say Lungu and PF must go.We should pray for HH to be a good leader better than Mwanawasa.I SIDO MARK supports regime change even if it means removing them by force.

  10. I fail to understand how anyone can support the status quo of Lungu and PF running govt. While MMD were slowly and consistently working on improving the economy, PF jumped in and blew away the little good that was there. They scammed away the surplus reserves and even borrowed more just so that they could steal the money on the world’s most expensive roads. Zambia has been pushed back at least 50 years. We are all the worse for the huge mistake of electing PF.

  11. Is making HH more richer the good you are looking for. Wait until you are told, even you house has been bought by HH that when you will know the type of a leader you are looking for. Livingstone hotel he presided in selling is one example and another is the house in Kabulonga just a few. He knows quite well that if he did it during the privatization of companies and no one to date has an idea of how much he gained in the sells of companies, then he can use the same method when he presides over the entire country. So let us be wise enough. God bless Zambia

    • The issue is about the rot at UTH, you bring in HH, are you normal? this is how PF rule, divert blame and accoutability for everything. Anyways come August your looting at the expense of Zambians is comming to an end.

      Don’t despire country men and women, come August Zambia shall be free.

    • tell them, he will even insulting when complain like that, that he is richer and didn’t for a vote from them, that he was richer though hasn’t disclosed how he did it!!!!

  12. For a start, I salute and honour that patriotic, loyal, intelligent and moral Doctor! As he notes, and saddened by that fact, it is the same poor disadvantaged who seem to perpetuate the status quo. Time to become enlightened that all life, not only of the politically powerful, is precious.

    • That is why we must elect business men that have made their money already. They are seeking office because they have the best interests at heart.
      Not incompetent failed drunken thieving lawyers that only want to be President to steal and enrich themselves with no interest except getting re-elected so they can keep on stealing and traveling around the world at the expense of poor Zambians!

  13. Comment:All of us are to blame for the mess we are in today.
    That said i wld like to offer a long lastin solutions.
    I will start with the the general populace.We should stop vandalism and b hygenically conscience.
    Secondly pipo who are have bin given authourity to ran the institution should learn to b honest especially the procurement department and the board members.
    lastly politicians should implement projects initiated and do the monitoring.

  14. Is making HH more richer the good you are looking for. Wait until you are told, even your house has been bought by HH thats when you will know the type of a leader you are looking for. Livingstone hotel he presided in selling is one example and another is the house in Kabulonga just a few. He knows quite well that if he did it during the privatization of companies and no one to date has an idea of how much he gained in the sells of companies, then he can use the same method when he presides over the entire country. So let us be wise enough. Lets face it, he is smart to make himself rich like he did but not smart enough to make Zambia great.
    God bless Zambia

    • The issue is about the rot at UTH, you want to blame HH and UPND, this is how PF rule, divert blame and accoutability for everything. Anyways come August your looting at the expense of Zambians is comming to an end.

      Don’t despire country men and women, come August Zambia shall be free.

  15. The rot Mr. Moono describes in the Healthy System is found every where in this country! As citizens, it is our responsibility to set our election agendas in important areas of 1. Health System, 2. Education System, 3. The Economy, etc and look for Political leaders who can articulate their policies clearly in these important areas of our lives and we vote on the basis of their competences to deliver in these areas. Truth be told: PF has failed us. Their priorities are on corruption and greed, that’s why they can prioritise a car park instead of improving water reticulation at UTH.

  16. Well, I visit UTH frequently and without being political, for once reason with an open mind. This institution is inundated with referral patients from all over Zambia and the hardworking staff are so overwhelmed and just can’t cope. They try their best and I must say ‘kudos to them’. Even if Jesus himself was to become president today, he is not going to increase bed space overnight, he personally is not going to clean the broken toilets. Yes I usually pass through the admission ward next to ‘casualty’ – it is mayhem – patients strewn everywhere on the mattresses on the floor. I cannot attribute this to poor political leadership! No in its strongest terms. Unless you have never driven to UTH, you won’t complain about parking.

    • Well you chose between car parking or saving the lives of patients dying daily from shortages of drugs, infections from broken infrastructure and water shortages.

  17. Zambians you are too lazy to do anything for yourselves but very good at critising everything every time. Don’t point a finger at Lungu and pf. Where is the hospital administrator and minister of health? These are the pipo you should ask. I personally blame the zambian poor attitude of complaining at everything be it economical, social or otherwise without doing anything about it. Moono should ve been responsible enough to seek audience with the person running the facility. Zambians must change their bad attitude towards work. No matter what government will come, zambians are just bad workers who want to be paid before they do anything. The person running uth must be fired. This has nothing to do with the president ,but health minister and uth adminisrator.Too lazy to do anything.

  18. His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu and the PF government have built a lot of infrastructure in the past four years among them Health centers which will decongest UTH once opened. In as much as I agree with you on the state of toilets at UTH the blame is not Lungu as many here have expresed, when such projects are implemented the UTH board is consulted and if anything they make recommendations with their priority stated.

    • When are those hospitals opening?? 4 yrs is a long time while pipo are dying daily at UTH from infections due to dilapidated infrastructure.

    • Building more health facilities for the sake of decongesting UTH but without accompanying qualified personnel, equipment, and medical supplies is not a proud record of development.

  19. Today once we have Some Kwachas fast is to get car instead of buying a plot for a house. Same to GRZ they have concentrated to construct a car park instead of buying some equipments for hospital and to do some maintenance that’s the worry about of the Dr.
    Let us go for things which are vital.

  20. A new Prado at $200,000? Is this also a sign of corrupted procurement system? You can almost buy three of them at that amount, especially when, as Government, you do not pay import taxes. I suppose the main issue is provision of poor health services and misplaced priorities by those in power. Doc, mobilise all your friends and relatives and vote out the incompetent government this August. After 11 August do not think that your duty of holding government accountable is over. We must create a new political culture of demanding the best possible for Zambia in all sectors.

    • Poor Mapanza H Nkwilimba, that so called surgeon is another hallucinating T0nga chat like you, venting this bantustan argue on innocent Zambians event the writer of the article Harryman Moono, the young man is misguided economist like his god HH.

      LT no news here next item please…

    • I think Moono is bieng disillusional here. He brings out good points but directs his anger and frustration at a wrong person. And by virtue of his name, same as you Mapanza, he sounds bitter and risks discrediting his argument.

  21. the state of affairs is really bad at UTH…some patients die because of poor services and not the ability of medical doctors

  22. Those doctors are just as corrupt as any politician when they are in office at MOH. Likewise they treat fellow doctors very badly even there at UTH, to the detriment of many departments. All this are just signs of an uncivilized society of savages at heart. They all cry “corruption, corruption!” but jump at earliest opportunity to steal anything.
    Zambia is a nation of lazy people, thieves and drunkards, lets face it. You deserve whatever you have now, if you didnt youd have something better, changing govt doesnt change culture.

    • @Enlightened (I presume?)

      Sadly true…….”You deserve whatever you have now, if you didnt youd have something better, changing govt doesnt change culture.”

  23. To this gov’t Infrastructure development is constructing overpriced roads at a whooping $1 million per kilometer …if we added value engineering to these road contracts we would have saved enough to upgrade UTH to international Standard..Road Construction is big business for the greedy corrupt politicians.
    It really pains me to see these *****s eager to obtain loans for pointless projects but neglect front line services…where do they think that they will go for treatment when they have retired and the stolen money has run out?

  24. Zambians we need to take the responsibility we hire Politicians and we have the Power to give over sight to what is happening in all affairs in the country that affects us all.The Problem is no one wants to stand up and do anything.

  25. that is so true Herryman..UTH is totally dead..whatever happened to the eurobond..we are waiting for HH to come in and the donors will scrap it all

  26. You Zambians amaze me. You think your kachokwe brothers and sisters in those compounds around Lusaka’s affluent neighbourhoods will vote wisely? They leave their homes at 5AM with not even a loaf of bread for their kids to eat, and go fight for cheap beer and political regalia such as t-shirts and fitenges supporting the same political party that has put them in such a state. Zambians need to be educated about what their basic rights are and task their leadership about providing those things without fail for every Zambian.

  27. Mr Moono has correctly observed , UTH is currently in a mess. The Hospital was built in the early years when KK took over from Britain , the sewer system , electrical , water as well as elevators are all old .But there is surely some light coming in the tunnel as we can see that the Hospital is being renovated. The Casualty ward which was there was worst congested and that’s where you could witness real death before being taken to the wards. Anyone who goes to UTH now will see some activity in construction , of course a car park is necessary and if they build the casualty on top of it , that is even better. We have heard from Dr Kasonde (Min Of Health) about the modernization of UTH , and this is welcome. During the Jan 2015 Pre bye election , Nevers Mumba even campaigned on demolishing…

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