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Zimbabweans angry at failure of Harare hospital

Harare - Zimbabweans launched an outcry on social media on Wednesday after a leaked memo announced the temporary stoppage of operations at the country's main referral hospital.

Harare Central Hospital was only able to perform emergency operations due to a lack of essential drugs and medicines, according to an internal hospital memo dated September 16, which was leaked to the media and seen by dpa.

(File picture) Surgeons perform an operation. Picture: Suhaib Salem. Credit: REUTERS

The dysfunctional hospital was a sign of "total state failure," opposition leader and former finance minister Tendai Biti said on Twitter.

Harare Central Hospital, responsible for a catchment area of roughly 1 million people, cares for more than 110,000 patients annually and has more than 1,000 beds.

Citizens vented their anger about the move on news websites and WhatsApp.

The outrage was particularly focused on President Robert Mugabe, who regularly flies to Singapore for medical treatment.

Public hospitals in Zimbabwe have been suffering financial shortages for several years now, with many patients forced to bring their own linen and purchase their own medication at pharmacies.

"The shortage of drugs and equipment at central hospitals has reached crisis proportions, with patients going for days without proper treatment," said Itai Rusike, executive director of non-profit organization Community Working Group on Health.

The southern African nation's politicians, meanwhile, "get their treatment in the private sector or abroad," said Rusike.

Zimbabwe's economy has steadily deteriorated since Mugabe, 92, came to power in 1980 and has several times faced total collapse.

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