Mukudzei Chingwere in Bulawayo
Zimbabwe’s first charitable paediatric orthopaedic hospital, and only the third in the region, successfully conducted its maiden two operations in Bulawayo on Wednesday for free, a fulfilment of Government’s vision of equitable health coverage for all.
The hospital, operating as Cure Children’s Hospital of Zimbabwe, administratively opened its doors in January, and was fully licenced in February to start operations.
Last week, it attended to the first two cases, and has already received requests for more than 500 others.
Through Government’s public-private partnerships, the hospital partnered with a non-governmental organisation for the restoration of the formerly Bulawayo Orthopaedic Hospital, now the Cure Children’s Hospital of Zimbabwe.
The hospital treats children with severe deformities, referred for specialist attention from public hospitals.
Executive director of the hospital Mr Jonathan Simpson said services were free, and they did not discriminate in terms of their parents’ financial ability.
“We are partnering with the Ministry of Health and Child Care,” he said. “We are also involved in training, we want to make this hospital a centre of excellence.
“If we bottleneck our services here we will be overstretched, so we are also a training centre in orthopaedics for doctors and nurses, and we are not charging. We have a maximum capacity of 50 beds, but we have not yet opened all the beds. We have to scale up in relation to the number of surgeons available.
“All the services here are for free and we want to give children a life in it’s fullness.”
The hospital has also brought in a British expatriate specialist to practise and lead the training of orthopaedics in Zimbabwe.
Dr Richard Gardner is no stranger to the African terrain having worked in Ethiopia and Malawi for a combined 10 years.
At present, he is doing his required three months aclimatisation at United Bulawayo Hospitals so he can practice in Zimbabwe.
The first patient at the new Cure Children’s Hospital of Zimbabwe was an eight-year-old boy, followed by a 13-year-old boy.
Dr Collin Msasanure was the lead surgeon.
“Our first patient was a child with a deformed wrists,” he said. “We have managed to correct the deformity. This is an advantage for the country because these children will be treated for free up to the age of 18.
“Such a facility is for children and they will be prioritised, unlike at other hospitals where these cases are not treated as emergences while they continue to grow with deformities.”
Mrs Lucy Sibanda said her eight-year-old grandson was injured during a child’s play. She thanked God for the procedure and hopes her grandson will live a good life now.
Mrs Beverly Kadzambe, mother to a 13-year-old boy who was hit by a car, thanked Government for availing the specialists services.
She said they were quoted R50 000 for the procedure in South Africa, but back home the procedure was done at no cost.
UBH operations director Mr Richard Sithole said the partnership with the private sector was a success.
“Now we want this process to be sustainable,” he said. “We train our nurses orthopaedics so that they can even practice at other facilities around the country. The course we are currently conducting is called Advanced Orthopaedics Nursing.”
Last week, Minister of Health and Child Care Vice President Constantino Chiwenga ordered some advanced paediatric specialities conducted at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare to be made available to Bulawayo as well.
The flagship procedures are the two successful separations of conjoined twins, which have now attracted huge international attention.