Suffering severe chest pains, Rosina Chataika, 57, was recently ferried 70km from her rural home in Zvimba Distict to Parirenyatwa Hospital in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.
The consulting doctor said a blood test was required for a diagnosis, but for three days no test was performed, and her condition worsened. Chataika complained to the ward’s male nurse, who asked her for a $50 payment to “jump the queue”.
Her son, a bricklayer in the small town of Chegutu, about 120km from the capital, had to beg relatives for the bribe money. Chataika’s blood sample was taken only after the nurse was paid.
Three months after being discharged, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She also sits on a $600 medical bill for her two-week hospital stay, which she cannot afford to settle.
“If we had not managed to raise that $50, I would have probably died. For the days I was in hospital, I learned that the nurse demanded money from many other desperate and poor patients who could not immediately get the services they wanted. [He] could probably be getting rich at the expense of the sick and poor,” she told IRIN.
Several nurses told Chataika that the male nurse worked in tandem with doctors to provide preferential treatment at a cost. “The nurses, messengers and some doctors are demanding money to ensure that admitted patients get such things as medication. I am sure there are many people who are dying because they cannot pay the bribes,” she said.
Chataika’s experience is far from unique. The 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index, by Transparency International, ranks Zimbabwe at 163 out of 174 countries surveyed – with number 174, Somalia, perceived as the most corrupt. Zimbabwe’s position on the index has fallen from 154 in 2011.
Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) said in December 2012, “Corruption amounts to a dirty tax, and the poor and most vulnerable are its primary victims, especially [those in] the rural and marginalized communities.”
TIZ said corruption was particularly rampant within the education, health, mining, sports, judicial and agriculture sectors and was becoming ingrained within the society.
Read more of the story here at the IRIN news service:
Corruption feeds on Zimbabwe’s poor