Mukudzei Chingwere in GWERU
Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 response improved the quality of the country’s healthcare system and people will benefit from it beyond the pandemic, Midlands provincial medical director Dr Reginald Mhene has said.
Several infrastructure developments were done at hospitals as well as the recruitment of more health personnel.
President Mnangagwa declared the pandemic a state of disaster from the outset, leading to improved resource allocation as well as marshalling the private sector to come on board and help the Government in boosting health care delivery.
Dr Mhene said Government channelled more resources to the improvement of infrastructure, which saw intensive care units being created and improved.
“Though we still have some vacant posts, last year we managed to recruit more health personnel, this will improve our health delivery beyond the pandemic. For example, Gweru Provincial Hospital (GPH) has a lot of improvements done there,” said Dr Mhene.
Through their funding from Government and support from Anglo-American, GPH had rapid infrastructure improvements in recent years, equating and in some cases surpassing those found at central hospitals and now qualifies it to be graded as such.
The casualty department was improved to the tune of US$1,1 million while the laundry department was also rehabilitated to improve hygiene at over US$55 000.
Covid-19 ICUs infrastructure and equipment chewed R10 million, US$350 000 and $4 million.
Human resources personnel were also boosted at GPH and now has specialists in areas such as obstetrics and gynaecology, general surgery, orthopaedics, mental health, anaesthetics, ophthalmology, psychiatric, paediatrics and medicine.
Medical Superintendent at the institution Dr Fabian Mashingaidze said the hospital has expanded specialist services over the past few years to the extent of having specialists in most areas.
“We are able to run different operations and medical procedures in the specialties that we have. We also run a renal unit, it has helped our patients with renal failure, they no longer need to travel to Harare for the services,” said Dr Mashingaidze.
“We recently had our first total hip replacement surgery for free at this hospital, the first one at any provincial hospital.”
With support from Government most of their services such as dialysis are offered for free at GPH, compared to private facilities that offer the service at about US$200 per session.
Many people do two sessions per week.
The decentralisation of the clinical procedures is in line with Government’s vision of universal health coverage and leaving no one behind.
Authorities are clear they want to reduce medical tourism and patient exports through bringing health procedures to their localities.
Orthopaedic surgeon at GPH, Dr Brian Paketh who conducted the first hip replacement surgery, called for more investment in training of specialists.
He thanked the Government for funding his educational journey and committed to pay back to the community by providing such services.
This week, GPH opened a stroke unit which specialises in the treatment and rehabilitation of patients who have had a stroke.
Head of the department, Dr Patience Maramba, said it was going to be a dedicated stroke unit.
GPH has partnered with Midlands State University’s Medical School in training its medical students, and partnered with United Bulawayo Hospital in training senior resident medical officers and junior resident medical officers.
It is a specialist at the hospital training registrars, and also has a nursing school, trains environmental health practitioners and midwifery.
GPH caters for a population of about 235 000 covering far flung areas such as Mberengwa and Gokwe, which are part of the province.