Blessings Chidakwa and Conrad Mupesa
The accelerated upgrade of the public health system that has seen older hospitals refurbished, new wards opened and new equipment bought, is now being expedited and spread to areas without hospitals with Government building 32 new hospitals, the first four of them nearly finished and work already started on others.
This is in line with the vision of the Second Republic under the leadership of President Mnangagwa, to undertake a massive infrastructure development and social investment programme aimed at transforming Zimbabwe into an upper middle income society by 2030.
Apart from the hospitals, Government is spearheading road construction and upgrading countrywide under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme as enunciated in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
Under the NDS1, the building of world class infrastructure and provision of key social services have been identified as key enablers for sustainable socio-economic development.
The hospitals are being built to very similar plans on turnkey contracts, under which structural works and the provision of the equipment are all done together.
The plans show male and female wards, theatres, maternity wards, out-patient departments, immunisation sections and a laboratory.
The four now almost ready are in southern Harare where there has been a swathe of new housing, Mberengwa, Chimanimani and Bulawayo.
The structural works for Harare South Health Centre are now almost complete, as is the case at others in the first four.
At the 22-bed Harare South Health Centre in the new Stoneridge suburb yesterday NMS contractors were working on the three separate buildings, with all three now roofed and the laying of the floors in progress.
Posting on his Twitter handle yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Permanent Secretary Mr Nick Mangwana said President Mnangagwa was walking the talk on improving the health sector.
“President Mnangagwa promised to revamp our health sector. He is living up to that promise. What you are looking at is a new 22-bed turnkey hospital coming up in Harare South.
“Thirty-two of these are being built across the country and they come all-inclusive with radiography and labs among other features,” he said.
Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro confirmed the 32-hospital construction programme but referred the technical questions to acting Director Hospital Planning and Project Management Engineer Frank Chiku.
Eng Chiku said the first phase targeted four health facilities: the Stoneridge Centre in Harare South, Bulawayo, Mataga in Mberengwa, and Chimanimani.
“Completion of Stoneridge was slated for September but because of the Covid-19 lockdown, we are revising our timelines. The next phase of the construction is set for next year,” he said.
The Covid-19 pandemic saw the already-planned rehabilitation of public health facilities accelerated as resources were found and were donated to get these up to the levels that they could cope with the seriously ill.
At the same time there was a determined effort to improve the whole public health sector.
Both parts of the programme were seen in Bulawayo recently when President Mnangagwa opened two health facilities in Bulawayo, strengthening Government’s quest to revamp the health services and guarantee universal health coverage as a means to improve people’s lives.
The two facilities are a paediatric orthopaedic hospital and a Covid-19 isolation and treatment centre.
The paediatric orthopaedic facility, to be named Bulawayo Orthopaedic Hospital, is the first of its kind in Zimbabwe and just the third in Southern Africa.
At the same time most rural district councils, for the first time having a reasonable capital development budget thanks to devolution funds, have been complementing Government efforts as most rural communities see extra health facilities as so important that new clinics quickly rise to the top of the wish lists.
For example, Chegutu Rural District Council has been building three new clinics using these funds to improve health services.
Council chairperson Councillor Tendai Gwinji recently said the completion of the clinics would reduce mortality rates and long distances walked by villagers.
“We have completed Danangwe and Katawa Clinics. Already, nurses are now offering services to people at Danangwe which we have opened.
“Another clinic in Mhondoro is expected to be completed soon as we have purchased material using Devolution Funds. This is in line with our Government’s agenda and President Mnangagwa’s vision of improving the lives of the people,” he said.
The council is also working on building staff houses at Katawa and Mhondoro North Clinics to cater for the welfare of the nursing and health staff. A rural clinic is far more than just the clinic building as is common in urban areas. Staff need housing and often a new borehole has to be drilled, and fairly frequently solar power installed.
“People used to walk at least 20 kilometres to access health care services. The move by the Government to introduce devolution funds is highly appreciated by the council which has found challenges in meeting its targets of providing services to the people due to low revenue collections.”