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Maternity wards heavily overcrowded nationwide

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by BAK, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. BAK

    BAK JF-Expert Member

    Apr 24, 2011
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    By HASINA MJINGO, 23rd April 2011 @ 11:21pm

    INADEQUATE financial resources are to blamed for the poor conditions at the maternal ward in Temeke and Mwananyamala hospitals, it has been learnt.

    A more or less similar situation afflicts Muhimbili National Hospital and all other medical facilities countrywide.

    A 'Sunday News' spot survey has found that the labour wards for pregnant women in Temeke and Mwananyamala hospitals are overcrowded in an unhygienic manner.

    They face critical shortages of trained midwives and have insufficient medical facilities.
    This situation, which prevails in nearly all government hospitals countrywide, leaves expectant women in a desperate condition.

    Mwananyamala Hospital receives between 80 and 90 expectant women while Temeke Hospital takes in between 50 and 70 patients within 24 hours.

    These overcrowded hospitals do not have enough beds to accommodate all their delicate patients.

    This leaves the needy expectant mothers struggling to get sleeping space on the few beds. Others scramble for space on the cold, hard floor.

    Rose Ngowi, who is an expectant mother, gave birth to her first child in 2005 at Temeke Hospital.

    At the moment she is back in the same hospital and the same antenatal room expecting her second child. She has been waiting for the past three days.

    Rose says that the situation in the antenatal room is awful. Three pregnant women sleep in one bed. Rose recalls that when she came to the hospital in 2005 to have her firstborn -- the situation at the hospital was much better.

    "I'm lucky to sleep in a bed which I share with another woman. Otherwise I would be on the hard floor now. Even nurses get a hard time in here.

    They move around with a lot of difficulty when doing checkups. They have to step over sleeping women," Rose says.

    Hospital chief Amani Malima is aware of his hospital's problems. Responding to a query on the shortage of beds, he said that before increasing the number of beds the maternity ward had to be expanded first.

    "Yes, the hospital has a critical shortage of beds. But we cannot shunt in new beds because there isn't enough space. We are aware that funds for the expansion of Temeke Hospital have been included in the national annual budget."

    Mwananyamala hospital faces a similar patient congestion problem, according to Dr Sophinia Ngonyani, the top administrator at the hospital. She agrees that the maternity ward there is too small.

    "We receive too many expectant mothers in this hospital," she says. "This is a huge problem because the wards in this hospital are too small. We, however, try to accommodate every expectant mother.

    "They share the few beds we have but sometimes some sleep on the floor. We don't send patients away because of the shortage of beds or floor space. We tolerate overcrowding of patents, but it is an unhealthy scenario," says Dr Ngonyani.

    Like the case in Temeke Hospital, Mwananyamala Hospital administrators envisage expansion of maternity wards. But there is the equally disappointing shortage of trained midwives and other medical personnel.

    Zainabu Mgaza, a gynecologist at Mwananyamala Hospital, says that the medical facility has too few medical workers to manage the task in their hands.

    "Today we have only two nurses on duty in three labour wards. They are very tired at the moment because they attend to too many patients. The shortage is harmful to the nurses as well as the patients.

    "The patients receive inadequate attention from the overworked nurses," says Zainabu. Margareth Zacharia, the Ward Block manager who is in charge of labour room, Intensive Care Unit and antenatal room agrees with Zainabu's view of the situation.

    She says that the hospital will soon be in a more critical situation if the maternity ward is not expanded. The current ward can hardly accommodate the 70 expectant women, many of whom sleep on the floor.

    Agnes Mgaya, sister in-charge at the Maternity Block, says there was a time when they had only three nurses in the entire maternity block -- one in the theatre, another in the labour room and the third one had gone to Muhimbili Hospital for a referral case.

    "I was the one who was left behind. I assisted a woman who was giving birth but the electricity suddenly went off. There was no other nurse to help me. Luckily, another expectant mother shined her cellphone light (OMG!) and allowed the childbirth to continue.

    Mgaya says that the few nurses that graduate each year are posted in all hospitals in Tanzania. "The few nurses we get don't stay here for long because we get meagre salaries. They go to private hospitals where they get better salaries.

    "The government should consider increasing our salaries. It will help motivate the nurses and the doctors."

    Agnes Mgaza explains that the shortage of staff at Temeke Hospital is not the only problem the hospital is facing. There is a serious shortage of medical drugs for emergency cases and too little blood in the blood bank.