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By Starsky Mkhonta - THE SWAZI OBSERVER-08-Sep-2009

GOVERNMENT has ordered the immediate closure of an illegal clinic operated by a Zimbabwean national at Sidvokodvo.

Two senior officials from the ministry of health swopped on the shop last Wednesday and found that there were serious discrepancies in the matter it operated. This was after some members of the public had raised concerns about the clinic. It was discovered that patients were dispensed with expired medication and the operators of the clinic did not have a valid licence, as their initial one expired about four years year ago.

The officials included a chief nursing officer and one of the under secretaries. Upon arrival at the clinic, they are said to have posed as patients. Just as they were about to be attended to, they made their mission known.\

They asked to inspect the clinic’s crucial departments such as the dispensary. They were also not pleased with the state of the building, in which the clinic is housed. Some of the medications were not even stored in appropriate places, whilst others did not even have expiry dates. It was also gathered that the owner was not a registered medical practitioner as should be the case. His name neither appears within the nursing council or the medical and dental council.

“The owner was found to be a mere medical laboratory technologist from Zimbabwe. Given such qualifications, it is possible that patients were given wrong medications,” said an expert. A majority of employees at the Clinic were also not skilled, but residents from the locality. After the officials ascertained that the grounds on which the clinic operated were not satisfactory, they ordered its closure.

However, the Zimbabwean owner had initially refused to budge. “He was not co-operative at first. It was only after it was explained to him that he deserved more – to be arrested for this – that he started cooperating. His excuse was that he was helping the community who would have suffered or travelled long distances for medical help.”

Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Dr. Steven Shongwe said a decision on what should be done to the owner of the clinic would be taken in due course. Dr. Shongwe confirmed that the clinic had been closed and said the ministry had a task of tracing the patients that were assisted by the clinic.

“It is a serious matter, which we are not taking lightly. What we are working on is investigating how he came to operate that clinic as according to our knowledge, he is just a medical laboratory technologist,” said Dr Shongwe.

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