Zimbabwean hospital offers to pay bills for death-bed patient savaged by SA death-doctor

Limpopo MEC for Health Dr Phophi Ramathuba. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sandile Ndlovu)

A private hospital in Zimbabwe has offered to pay the medical bill of a woman at the center of Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba’s rant about migrants from Zimbabwe being a “huge strain” on the provincial healthcare system.

Arundel Hospital in Harare called on anyone with information on the woman to contact them after a video emerged of Ramathuba berating her for getting treatment in South Africa. The woman is thought to be from Zimbabwe.

In an interview from Harare with News24, Blessing Chitsato, operations manager of Arundel Hospital, said they were willing to foot the medical bill but were having trouble contacting the Limpopo hospital.

He said:

We are struggling to get through to the hospital where she was said to be admitted. We don’t know her name or anything, for now. We are searching. As soon as we get something positive, we will share [it].

Ramathuba’s statement that undocumented migrants are placing a strain on service delivery in the health sector has divided opinion.

Zimbabwean political commentator Kudzai Mutisi said the move by Arundel Hospital was commendable.

“Arundel’s gesture is exactly what’s needed by the patient. Everyone else has been focusing on Dr Phophi Ramathuba’s conduct and the Zimbabwean government’s shortcomings.

“The patient needs assistance in paying the medical bills, and that’s the least we can do to console her after that traumatic and dehumanising incident. In our quarrels and debates, we risk forgetting that there is a vulnerable human being involved,” he said.

While the South African health department said health workers should have a high moral obligation toward their patients, it added that the health sector was under strain.

“Limpopo province is one of the affected provinces, and despite these challenges, healthcare workers must ensure that they maintain high moral obligations and standards in their work, in line with the Hippocratic Oath, together with the National Health Act and the Refugee Act of South Africa,” the department said in a statement.

In South Africa, only primary healthcare services are provided free of charge.

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