While patients at Mutale Health Centre wait for hours for medical attention, they allege that clinic staff’s friends and family members jump the queue.
“We have to queue for a long time while other people walk past without joining the queue and get service,” said clinic patient, Grace Nemulodi from nearby Mulodi village. “The staff at the health centre treat us ordinary people as though we do not deserve the same attention they give to their relatives, the councillors, the mayor and the chiefs.”
Nemulodi says she believed that patients have been understanding for long enough.
“We have raised lots of complaints to the centre manager, and she promised to take care of the issue but nothing is changing,” she added. “The situation has become worse.”
OurHealth spoke to a Mutale Health Centre nurse who asked not to be named.
“It is true that our patients are being treated differently from friends and relatives of other staff members,” she said. “Sometimes you find someone presenting with a serious illness or injury and still they have to bear the pain and wait longer because they are not relatives.”
“I am really against it because I think all patients are equal and they have to be treated in the same way,” she added.
Sharon Ngwenya lives in Tshandama village. When Ngwenya’s son fell ill, she took him to the clinic. She said that as she and her son approached the front of the queue and were about to be taken to the consulting room, a nurse’s sister arrived. Ngwenya was then told to wait for a moment because the woman had come to deliver a message to her sister.
“I waited for half an hour, and when she came out, she was holding some medicines,” Ngwenya alleged. “It did not sit well with me because my son was very ill and ended up being transferred to hospital.”
“I wish these people would get some discipline from the government,” she added.
OurHealth attempts to contact the centre manager for comment were unsuccessful.