Monday, February 11, 2013

UTH's handling of oxygen problem disappoints Manda

UTH's handling of oxygen problem disappoints Manda
By Kombe Chimpinde
Mon 11 Feb. 2013, 13:50 CAT

UTH urologist Dr Francis Manda has expressed disappointment over the manner in which management at the hospital is handling the problem of oxygen at the country's biggest referral hospital.

In an interview, Dr Manda said he was appalled by the insistence by the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) management that the supply of oxygen to the hospital's theatres was under control, yet big and serious operations had remained suspended because of the limited supply of the gas.

"What I don't like, and that is my policy in life, is for people not to tell the truth. The oxygen issue at UTH, when it started, Pauline Mbangweta (UTH spokesperson) came out and said everything was normal, when she knew very well that things were not," he said.

"Phase three theatre had no gas cylinders until this came to light when the media picked it up. We were not operating before that time almost three weeks. They (management) panicked, they brought in small cylinders which could not even last one hour," Dr Manda explained. "Make a tour of UTH theatres…there are different types of operations which we do.

There are emergency operations which are catered for by the oxygen from the central supply, which comes from the plant. Then we have cylinders which we use when the central supply shuts off like now. That is what she (Mbangweta) should have said. This is oxygen directly from the plant going into theatres, going to Intensive Care Unit (ICU)."

Dr Manda said management did not put in place proper measures to cover for the time of the works at the central oxygen plant.

"Now like phase three theatre, the biggest theatre in UTH, where we do big operations, cancer operations, abdominal surgery, thoracic surgery in the chest cavity when you open up (the chest) and things like that… but these operations you sit down and plan them properly. When the day of operation comes, you cannot operate when there is not enough oxygen because they take long," he said.

"For me for example, if I am to remove the bladder because it has cancer, it takes me four to six hours just operating on one case. Now if they fit those theatres with small cylinders which can hardly last one hour, just imagine what can happen to that patient! Not until now, they had fitted in small cylinders to the machines which are in phase three theatres which you can use to operate small operations which last 30, 20 minutes. What about the big ones?"
Dr Manda said he and other surgeons were not able to do operations that were due because of the oxygen shortage.

"We had to send them home and up to now they are home. We told them we would call them back when things have normalised," he said.
Dr Manda said big cylinders had not been taken to big theatres because of pressure.

"They started fitting them on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I couldn't do my big cases because there was no oxygen, let anyone challenge me...

They have just finished fitting those cylinders this week, now we will see this week, whether I personally will operate or not because we have to test those cylinders because those machines, which we have in theatre, the life-supporting machines, have no proper knobs to fit to those cylinders and these are new machines which came from Japan. They don't have their accessories to fit to our local cylinders. So even the anaesthetics have found a way of improvising," he explained.

Dr Manda said politics of yesteryear should not play a role in a life of a human being.
"We are dealing with life here. Now if we are doing politics with life, that is where I am saying I am not going to play politics with life and by politics here I mean to please the authorities. Authorities cannot go to the public and tell them that what you are hearing are just rumours and forget.

I have a quarrel with such type of attitude of telling the authorities that everything is okay. The very authorities do not come to see what is on the ground. They take what comes from management because they trust that is the truth and yet it is not. I challenge you to take a tour with Mbangweta," said Dr Manda.


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