BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
AUTHORITIES at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo have started converting a children’s unit at the institution to a COVID-19 treatment centre for minors amid a surge in the number of children contracting the virus.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of the third wave of the COVID-19 outbreak that has left hospitals overwhelmed.
The country is recording double digit fatalities daily, sparking a demand for the COVID-19 jab as evidence shows that vaccination minimises chances of hospitalisation.
Mpilo acting clinical director Francis Chiwora yesterday revealed that the institution was converting one of its children’s units to a COVID-19 treatment centre.
“We are seeing rising numbers of children being affected by COVID-19,” he said.
“It is something that we never saw coming, but that is the situation on the ground. There is a unit at the children’s hospital that we are converting into a children’s COVID-19 treatment centre and I am certain that it will be ready within a week or so.”
He was speaking during the handover of a donation of fridges and steam irons by fast-food chain Simbisa Brands to doctors at the hospital who lost property worth thousands of dollars in an inferno which gutted their living quarters in May this year.
Research suggests that children under the age of 18 represent a small percentage of confirmed COVID-19 cases and fatalities compared to other age groups, particularly the aged.
As with adults, pre-existing medical conditions are being cited as a risk factor for severe disease and intensive care admission in children.
Simbisa Brands donated 44 fridges and 44 irons to Mpilo doctors with the company’s human resources manager Juta Tshuma saying the fast-food chain recognises their plight in the face of COVID-19.
“With the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, we more than need these healthcare workers who have stood firm in the unenviable fight. It is our hope that this donation will contribute towards making their dwellings habitable after a disastrous experience,” Tshuma said.
In response to the gesture, Chiwora said: “In difficulties, helping hands make the difficulties much easier. We are humbled by the support that we have had from the corporate world and Simbisa today (yesterday), coming to add so much to the helping hands that have been coming to assist us.”
Government has committed $287 million towards the construction of new accommodation for doctors at Mpilo C in Bulawayo after their living quarters were gutted by fire.
The 1 000-bed Mpilo Hospital caters for patients from Bulawayo, Midlands, Masvingo and Matabeleland provinces.
Government blamed the fire on lack of maintenance on the 59-year-old building.