By A Correspondent- When COVID- 19 struck Zimbabwe’s schools calender, Kranzipiyo Chibaya’s colleagues were already in grade 3 when he was just starting ECD.
Aged 9 years Chibaya’s eyes light up as he confidently tells of his dream career.
“When l grow up l want to be a driver.”
Quizzed further on why becoming a driver is very important to him, he continued:
“I want to drive a lorry that will ferry people to and from my home area into the city. My parents are both farmers and I would feel super happy if I was able to help them ferry their farm produce to Harare for resale. There are very few lorries in my area and I know it is also because there are very few drivers in my neighbourhood.”
His father’s eyes fills up with tears, but he smiles while looking at his son before he intervenes:
“He is a very focused young boy and he knows he has a lot of catching up to do.”
Narrating why his son started attending Mayema primary school in Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe 4 years later than his peers, Kranzipiyo’s father Chengetai Chibaya told ZimEye that he decided that this was the best option for his son.
“I had reservations taking my son to school at a time when his colleagues started ECD because of his condition. He still wears nappies or diapers. But no, it’s not because he wets himself or is not able to use the toilet, He has a condition called cystostoma.”
The condition is such that an individual is unable to empty his or her bladder appropriately. It can be treated through urethral catheterization.
However, if urethral cathetization is either undesirable or impossible, suprapubic cystostomy offers an effective alternative.
Stuck In Diapers
Cystostomy is the general term for the surgical creation of an opening into the bladder; it may be a planned component of urologic surgery or an iatrogenic occurrence.
Added Chibaya, who hails from village Mareva under chief Nyajuna: “My son needs help to rectify his condition. Part of the process was initiated by a Harare doctor but he is now stuck in diapers since 2012.”
He narrated his son’s journey with cystostoma.
Born on 8 August 2011, Chibaya told ZimEye that Kranzipiyo was healthy like any other new born baby. Trouble started when he turned six months old and the new parents discovered that their son would cry non- stop.
“Initially, we just thought that he was having teething problems only to discover that our son was being troubled by something. The challenge was we could not figure out what it is. We took him to our local clinic and he was treated but he never stopped crying.”
The Chibayas said Kranzipiyo started losing weight and that is when they knew that something was terribly wrong with their son.
“We consulted prophets from our church but the situation never improved. We then went back to our local clinic but nothing changed.”
Chibaya said his wife Tambudzai Bandera noticed that their son was not wetting his nappies for days and took their son back to the local clinic and explained this to the nurses.
“We explained that he was not wetting his nappies and they referred us to Mutawatawa hospital in Murehwa. He got no treatment for two days and we requested that he be discharged. Initially, they refused but they later agreed.
The couple took their ailing minor to Parirenyatwa Group of hospital where they were told that their son needed specialist care. They were referred to Harare hospital.
“We stayed there for two full months from June and July. My son was admitted in the children’s ward. He was only attended to by junior doctors. We almost gave up and was at that point where we were contemplating going back home.”
Chibaya said lady luck was on his side a day before he wanted to call it quits and ask to be discharged from hospital. The only available specialist doctor “bumped” into his son.
“The doctor was doing the rounds on that particular day when we had lost all hope and were about to go home and that is when we were advised that our son would be taken into theatre for the operation. Finally, we were so happy that he would get help. True to the doctor’s word, the procedure took less than an hour and our son was back from theatre.”
Cystoscopy, the procedure to redress cystotomy is a simple procedure that may in some instances involve the closure of the outer layer of skin with sutures or surgical staples. However, these sutures or surgical staples may need to be removed in about 10 to 14 days.
The procedure according to medical practitioners takes about 45 minutes to 1-1/4 hours to perform in most cases, including the needed time for preparation and anesthesia.
“We were told to come back for a review after two weeks and the doctor was happy with the progress and recovery process.”
But it has been almost 8 years now since his son underwent this corrective surgery.
Health experts recommend that cystostoma patients should clean the cystostomy site and skin around it daily.
They recommend that one should wash their hands before and after cystostomy care. It is suggested that one should change their suprapubic catheter when needed.
“Water is a problem but we get by. We cannot afford the urine bags so our son has always used cloths, baby nappies or sometimes pampers when we travel. We try and keep them dry but it is a problem because sometimes the urine just comes out and Kranzipiyo cannot control it.”
Chibaya told ZimEye that he has since 2012 failed to have his son’s condition rectified because the specialist doctor who performed the corrective surgery on his son is now based in Chiredzi.
“I have visited Harare central hospital several times but it seems there is no specialist doctor to help my son. I was advised that no one can help me at Harare Central Hospital.
I engaged the doctor who performed the initial surgery and they expressed willingness to help me. They however revealed that they do not have the equipment to perform the surgery in Chiredzi. The equipment is only at Harare hospital. So it’s a stalemate.”
Chibaya said he was referred to a private doctor who required US$300, money which he has failed to raise.
“I hardly make US$20 and I am now stranded. I fear that my son may never be able to be a man if he continues like this. It is also affecting him psychologically because he is realising that he cannot use his male organ like every other boy.”
The father of 6 said he survives on farming at his rural home.
“I can do general hand work, but I cannot raise the required US$300. My mother passed on last year and it has always been problem after problem.”
Chibaya said he wished Zimbabwe had a functional health care system.
“My son’s health, his future is at stake. It tears me apart to watch him struggle daily. He is growing up and I feel that I am letting him down, the country is letting him down. He deserves a chance.”
Zimbabwe’s health care system has been in “intensive care unit” according to the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) president Enock Dongo.
“Year in and year out, the Ministry of Health has been experiencing strikes by healthcare workers over poor salaries and poor working conditions, a sign that the structures are not functioning well.”
For more than a month, 15 000 nurses have been on strike over salaries which they say have been eroded by galloping inflation. They are demanding US$ salaries and improved working conditions.
Nurses and doctors have since deserted hospitals and health care facilities turning them into white elephants.
The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation.
“Service delivery has been affected and all health-care services…obstetric, dialysis, acute medical and surgical, and chronic HIV care is reeling from the effects of the pandemic,” Rashida Ferrand, director of the Zimbabwe–London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Research Partnership, based at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare is on record saying.
The newly appointed health care minister Constantino Guvheya Chiwenga is on record pleading with health care workers to return to work adding that government was addressing their grievances.
“We are working hard to improve our health delivery system at ward, village, district, province up to referral institutions. We are strengthening our system so that people can access medication easily.
“Our health workers are on strike. We are encouraging them to return to work so we that we can save lives. While we are aware of their grievances, they should also consider saving lives. We are not blind to your issues. We are working hard to assist, but you should also consider lives of patients.”
Please note: Those wishing to assist Chibaya can reach him on 0714106738 or his wife on 0788918712