Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya
Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
MPILO Central Hospital doctors have been exposed for allegedly attempting to swindle a disabled breast cancer patient by demanding $10 000 for an operation to remove her breasts.
The same doctors are accused of refusing to admit her insisting on payment of the money first.
Health experts said the late Ms Phanankosi Dube’s operation was supposed to cost at most $2 000 at a public health institution like Mpilo.
Ms Dube’s family said when her health condition deteriorated, the doctors insisted that she should wait for June 19 the day of the operation when she was supposed to pay the $10 000 for the operation.
The late Ms Dube (36) who lived on begging and was the family’s breadwinner, died last Saturday while gasping for breath at her home in Makokoba suburb.
The Chronicle is in possession of a WhatsApp conversation between the late woman’s cousin and one of the doctors in which he told him twice that $10 000 was needed for the operation.
The late cancer patient’s family launched an appeal in The Chronicle last week to raise the $10 000 and she died days after three donors had expressed willingness to assist her.
The late Ms Phanankosi Dube
After the publication of her story, a doctor from Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare, phoned the family and advised that the operation could be done at the Harare hospital for less than $2 000.
One of the donors also queried the amount and asked Ms Dube’s family to contact the accounts department at Mpilo to verify the amount the doctors were demanding.
Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said the minimum cost for operating one breast is $754.
“The minimum cost for breast cancer operation for one breast is $754. The patient pays $12 consultation fee, $30 ward deposit and $200 theatre fee and the patient is given the bill showing the balance after the operation which the patient can pay later. Non-cancer breast operation fee is $300 for one breast,” said Dr Ngwenya.
He said since Mpilo is a public hospital, patients are not turned away for not having the money to pay but are instead treated and the issue of payment is addressed later.
Dr Ngwenya said Ms Dube’s family was supposed to approach his office when authorities at the hospital wanted to discharge her before she fully recovered.
He said he could not comment on the $10 000 doctors are alleged to have demanded because the hospital does not charge such outrageous amounts.
Dr Ngwenya said members of the public should desist from dealing privately with staff at the hospital because it was a public hospital.
“The issue of costs and payments are dealt with by the hospital’s accounts department and not doctors,” he said.
Ms Dube’s mother, Ms Maureen Dube said her daughter died a painful death and blamed the hospital authorities for prematurely discharging her.
“We took her to the hospital on May 19 and the first doctor we saw around 8PM admitted her and said she needed an urgent operation. Three days later I was told she had been discharged and the nurse rudely told us we could bring her back whenever there was an emergency,” she said.
Ms Dube said she does not understand why her daughter was discharged in that condition which led to her death at home.
Community Working Group on Health director Mr Itai Rusike said such cases should be investigated to establish the truth.
“This is a very unfortunate incident that should never be allowed to happen in a country with a constitution that guarantees every citizen and permanent resident a right to access to basic health-care services,” he said.
President Mugabe recently criticised some doctors for valuing money more instead of serving people in urgent need of health care services.
The President reminded doctors of the Hippocratic Oath which they take before they start practising.