Editorial Comment: Funding will unlock healthcare opportunities

Source: Editorial Comment: Funding will unlock healthcare opportunities | The Herald September 13, 2019

Editorial Comment: Funding will unlock healthcare opportunities
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals consultant urologist Dr Shingirai Meki (right) and patient Milka Gwatiringa

The recent successful operation by a team of local surgeons to remove a 12,3kg 11-year-old kidney cyst from a patient goes to show that Zimbabwe has good doctors capable of delicate and complicated medical procedures without sophisticated equipment that is found in developed countries.

We must commend and recognise consultant urologist Dr Shingirai Meki and his team at the University of Zimbabwe’s College of Health Sciences for conducting this successful operation that is of world class proportions.

Their achievement is quite re-assuring and gives us hope and comfort of our country’s medical expertise.

We would like to thank them for a job well done. The crisis that faces the country’s healthcare delivery system has generated vigorous debate.

The problems are well-documented and thankfully the Government is taking practical steps to engage health professionals to improve service delivery.

This latest achievement by local surgeons shows that it’s not all gloom and doom in the country’s medical arena, and gives us hope and confidence in our expertise.

All what our medical professionals need is recognition and respect. Zimbabweans should have faith in local expertise.

It’s a victory over the massive inequities that exist between the poorly funded healthcare system versus the private sector which serves an elite few.

The fact that the operation was conducted at a cost of $2 000 against US$11 000 cost charged in private healthcare institutions outside the country means that healthcare innovations if well supported can save the country foreign currency.

Zimbabweans reportedly spend US$4 million to get treatment abroad, but local innovations and support for local medical expertise could help us save the precious foreign currency.

Money alone and top-notch equipment is not the answer to our deep-seated problems in the healthcare sector.

The availability of resources should also be complemented by a committed medical expertise which can utilise innovation to expand access to health for the majority of the poor.

We must commend Dr Meki and his team for their foresight and proactive approach to rolling out specialist service to save the lives of the poor.

Innovation and commitment to improving access to health for the majority is now yielding positive results.

We need to support our health specialists and expand specialist services for heart, brain, cancer, kidney and other organ operations.

The successful cyst operation is an important milestone that we can build on.

We must commend the College of Health Sciences for continuing to impart important knowledge and skills to our doctors undergoing training in various surgical skills.

It is also important for the Government to support plans to upgrade our theatres to world standards to cater for various surgical capabilities.

The achievement by Dr Meki and his team gives us hope. It goes to show that our country’s healthcare delivery system is not breaking down, but that we need to support our specialists to perform better.

They need motivation and more support to enable them to work more efficiently.

Despite the difficult economic circumstances, the country’s health delivery system has continued to perform. We should encourage and promote medical research innovations to make it work even better.

From this successful operation, we should learn a few important lessons on how to improve our surgical services in the country.

As a country we should know that sustainable investments in the healthcare sector can make a long-term difference for the majority of the poor.

If we don’t have adequate resources, we can still find strategies to improve knowledge, skills and create collaborations and consensus among key stakeholders.

Money matters, but it is not everything. Low cost health innovations can bring high-quality and cost-effective care to the people.

This grass-roots approach can make a big difference. It’s such interventions that can have meaningful impact on our health delivery system.