BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
EKUSILENI Medical Centre, the brainchild of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, still awaits results for the assessment that was recently done by the Health Professions Authority of Zimbabwe (HPAZ) to ascertain its preparedness to start operating.
This was after a 15-member inspection team from the HPAZ, including doctors, visited the health facility to assess whether it was ready for reopening to serve as a COVID-19 institution after a surge in infections.
The visit followed an announcement by Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa on Tuesday last week that the health centre was 90% complete.
Ekusileni remains closed despite being identified as a COVID-19 centre alongside the Catholic-run Mater Dei Hospital, United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) Old Bartley Memorial Block (BMB) and Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital.
UBH’s BMB was opened in December last year. Elangeni Training Centre is designated for asymptomatic patients.
“There is no response yet. We thought the findings would be released yesterday (Monday). However, we are ready to reopen if given the greenlight. We will stand guided by their findings and recommendations,” Ekusileni acting chief executive officer Absolom Dube said yesterday.
Jabulani Hadebe, projects co-ordinator of the Joshua Nkomo National Foundation, was not amused by the continued delay in reopening the hospital.
He cast doubt on government’s sincerity in reopening the facility which was closed in 2004.
“They (country’s leadership) promised to reopen the centre before the 2018 elections, and to date, it remains closed. They keep changing goalposts, changing deadlines, and one is left to conclude that they are not sincere. We are not happy about that,” Habede said.
The National Social Security Authority-owned facility was closed in 2004 after it emerged that it had outdated machinery and equipment.
In early 2019, government entered into an agreement with Sharda Group of Institutions to resuscitate the hospital, recruiting hospital personnel in preparation for the reopening of the facility, but the deal was cancelled in March 2020 under unclear circumstances.
In November 2019, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said government was considering transforming Ekusileni to a cancer referral medical facility.
In 2020, government announced that Ekusileni would be transformed to a specialist training research hospital under the National University of Science and Technology, with the latter tasked with operationalising the facility.