Editor's Comment

Keep close eye on all health centres

THE revocation of Fairview Hospital’s operating licence by the Health Professional Council of Zambia (HPCZ) is a commendable and necessary move taken to protect the public.
The closing down of the hospital will also serve as stern warning to all private healthcare providers that use underhand practices.
On Wednesday the HPCZ announced the shutdown of the upmarket Fairview Hospital for allegedly stocking and dispensing expired drugs and using three unlicenced doctors.
The hospital is also accused of using expired reagents in its laborotary, pointing to the fact that test results from the facility could be unreliable.
This came to light when a team of eight HPCZ inspectors in the company of Lusaka City Council officials undertook a routine compliance inspection at the hospital.
It is really disappointing that a hospital that is viewed by many as reputable could endanger the health of its clients by administering expired drugs.
As medical experts, they should know better than anybody else that ingesting expired drugs is harmful to the human body.
It is against the medical professional conduct for any medical practitioner or hospital to administer drugs knowing very well that they are expired.
What is even more agonising is that the hospital had among its medical staff three unqualified doctors or rather quacks.
This means the hospital had unqualified people diagnosing patients and prescribing medications based on unreliable test results because even the reagents that were being used were expired.
As though that were not enough, clients were then subjected to expired drugs.
HPCZ therefore deserves commendation for the expose and the timely action to put a stop to this. Previously, it was the high-density township private clinics that were being targeted for such inspections, but with this outcome it is evident that nothing should be taken for granted. The shortcomings could be anywhere.
The council has done well to instruct the hospital to stop accepting fresh clients while relocating existing ones to alternative health facilities to ensure that they get due treatment.
Hospitals are places where sick people go for care and are helped to recover. People visit hospitals because their bodies are ailing and giving such people wrong or expired medication is tantamount to adding a problem to another.
While accidents and mistakes could endanger lives of patients, it is unacceptable and criminal for any medical practitioner or hospital to willfully engage in practices known to be harmful to clients.
Anyone doing that is a danger to the public and should not by any means be allowed to continue operating.
Life is priceless and its value is in the fact that it cannot be replaced. It would therefore be irresponsible of HPCZ to remain aloof while precious lives are at risk.
While the case of Fairview Hospital is in public domain, we believe this is just a tip of an iceberg. The chances are that there are many more such facilities that are engaging in unlawful activities.
HPCZ should therefore intensify and broaden investigations into practices of these private hospitals.
This could also be extended to public health institutions because they are not immune to bad elements.
HPCZ should also investigate the tendency by private hospitals to cash in more than is necessary on unsuspecting patients through questionable admissions and “overgenerous” prescription of drugs.
Members of the public who use these facilities should also be vigilant and report any unlawful practices to relevant authorities.
The revocation of Fairview Hospital’s licence should also serve as a lesson that dishonesty comes with grave consequences. This is the case for Fairview Hospital after building its business brand for many years it has virtually gone down the drain just like that.
It will take a lot of convincing for the public to have confidence in the hospital again. Zambia needs such health institutions but they must measure up to the set standards.

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