MULTI-sectoral health firm, Innovative Healthcare Delivery (IHD) will set up five diagnostic centres and 10 pharmaceutical companies countrywide in the first quarter of next year with the aim of providing affordable healthcare.
Healthcare in Zimbabwe has been in a shambles due to underfunding of the sector turning the country’s major hospitals into death traps.
The parlous state of the public health system has left most people relying on private hospitals. However the high cost of treatment is beyond the reach of the majority resulting in people dying from ailments they could have been treated for.
The company, which aims to eventually set up a diagnostic centre and a pharmaceutical retail outlet in each of the country’s districts, is working in partnership with the Zimbabwe government.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, IHD executive director Chitwan Malhotra said the five diagnostic centres and the 10 pharmaceutical companies will be set up in various parts of the country to the tune of between US$5 to US$7 million.
“We intend to set up 10 pharmacy retail outlets in Zimbabwe and they will be launched on March 8, 2021 which is the Women’s International Day,” she said. “The social impact of this kind of initiative will be that we will be bringing more women leadership into healthcare. These pharmacies will be run by women pharmacists.”
The five diagnostic centres, she said, will be set up in Harare, Gweru, Mutare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. She said five of the 10 pharmaceutical retail outlets will be set up alongside each diagnostic centre with the location of the other five pharmacies to be identified in consultations with the government.
The diagnostic centres, she revealed, will be set up near public health centres to ensure ease of access for patients requiring affordable treatment.
The project, she said, will create at least 2 500 jobs in the country with many more created through the supply chain. The project was supposed to have started earlier this year but was delayed by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Malhotra said the delegation, which she came up with to help set up the project, has visited Harare and Parirenyatwa hospitals as well as Victoria Falls.
Malhotra said they had found during their tour that health treatment is expensive and is unaffordable to most ordinary Zimbabweans particularly with the low wages and unemployment in the country.
“It is very difficult for a middle-class man to afford treatment, which is the key takeaway we took from our visit,” she said. “This is why our focus is to bring affordable healthcare. We do not want to just come as a private organisation which is just looking at making profit. We want to be an organisation that makes a lasting impact of bringing affordable healthcare.”
Malhotra said IHD is successfully running diagnostic centres in India and would like to replicate it in Zimbabwe. She revealed that the company will be setting up offices in Zimbabwe next month in Harare and Victoria Falls.
She said the major advantage of setting up in Zimbabwe is the presence of a well-trained workforce in the country which will speed up the time it will take to get the project off the ground. Malhotra said with the setting up of the diagnostic centres and pharmacies, they hope to help the country’s hospitals reduce its dependence on donors in the health sector.
The delegation has held almost 30 meetings in the nine days they have been in the country. Among those they have met are President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga, ministers and officials from the Ministry of Health and officials from national pharmaceutical company, NatPharm whom they will be working closely with.