Oxygen shortage at UTH due to government irresponsibility

Government should be held responsible for any life that will be lost due to the shortage of oxygen at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) as the problem cannot be attributed to the lack of funds after President Michael Sata promised US $90,000 to each national football team player if they brought back the AFCON trophy.

Political analyst Dante Saunders said it was unfortunate for government to spend so much time on planning the downfall of the opposition political parties and their leaders instead of planning national development.

“The people of Zambia should hold government responsible for the deaths which will occur as a result of the oxygen situation at UTH.  It is very sad that issues which can be taken care of by government are never seen to be addressed,” Mr Saunders said.

He said no one could accept that the situation was due to shortage of funds when government has managed to fund the several unbudgeted by-elections resulting from PF’s campaign against opposition.

UTH breakdown of the hospital’s oxygen distribution plant was an indication of the Patriotic Front’s misplaced priorities now affecting supply of life saving gas to the wards, operation theatres and Intensive care Unit (ICU) at the institution.

And UTH public relations manager Pauline Mbangweta confirmed the shortage of oxygen at the hospital forcing disruption of operations in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the theatres.

“We have no supply from the oxygen plant and we are using cylinders for all the wards in the hospital.  We can not carry out normal theatre operations because there is not enough oxygen for the procedures, so we are only doing emergency operations with the limited gas we have in the cylinders,” Ms Mbangweta said.

She said patients scheduled for theatre operations were being turned away due to insufficient oxygen, but that those in wards were also using oxygen cylinders.

Ms Mbangweta explained that works to restore supply was underway, but could not state when it would be functional.

And Zambia Direct Democracy Movement (ZDDM) vice president Charles Kafumbo said it was extravagant, irresponsible and unconscionable for government to spend on superfluous activities at the expense of saving the lives of many Zambians in deplorable hospitals in the country.

Mr. Kafumbo described the lack of oxygen at UTH due as poor management by government and demanded for an immediate and long term solution to the situation which has affected the lives of poor people in the country.

“Government should not kill the poor Zambian people who can not afford to travel to South Africa for medical care, these are the issues which need to be addressed urgently, they need to replace the whole oxygen system at the hospital,” Mr. Kafumbo said.

Mr. Kafumbo said government should realign its priorities and attend to serious issues such as at the hospital which include the recent water problems and the oxygen supply at the institution.

He said ZDDM was concerned that the government could offer US $90,000 to each national team player if they returned the Africa Cup Championship at the on-going AFCON Tournament in South Africa at the expense of people dying due to lack of oxygen at the UTH.

He said it was unbelievable that government should propose such enormous amounts for an individual while important facilities like hospices had closed down and UTH lacked basic equipment and machinery for saving life.

“There is no oxygen at UTH because of the old equipment at the gas plant, it must be replaced; those are some of the things which need urgent attention instead of the government spending US $90,000 for an individual,” he said.

ZDDM was at UTH yesterday to monitor the effects of the broken down oxygen plant at the institution.