Ishemunyoro Chingwere Business Reporter
Zimbabwe requires sustained investment in its national health system, as it angles to commercialise the sector, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has said.
VP Chiwenga, who is also Minister of Health and Child Care, made the remarks when he spoke at the official handover of a newly-constructed state-of-the-art 20-bed private ward at Zvishavane District Hospital on Wednesday.
The ward was donated to Government by platinum mining concern, Mimosa Mining Company, and was handed over at a ceremony which was presided over by President Mnangagwa, who also received a double-storey girls’ hostel at the Zvishavane Vocational Training Centre, constructed by the mining company.
The handing over of the private ward comes at a time the Government is working to restructure the country’s health sector to, among other intended goals, reduce the country’s foreign health bill.
The strategy is aimed at driving towards accelerating the quality of health provision to a situation where the country starts receiving health tourists from other countries.
In line with President Mnangagwa’s economic thrust of a private sector-led economy, VP Chiwenga welcomed the investment and subsequent donation by Mimosa and called on other corporates to invest in the sector.
“The construction of a 20-bed private ward here at Zvishavane District Hospital is envisaged to contribute towards Government’s thrust to commercialise the provision of affordable healthcare,” said VP Chiwenga.
“It is now common knowledge that upon his ascendancy to the helm of leadership of the revolutionary party and the Government of Zimbabwe, the guest of honour (President Mnangagwa) envisioned a private sector-driven economy to improve people’s livelihoods.
“Government is providing the necessary enabling environment for infrastructure development as demonstrated by the commissioning of the project we are witnessing here today.”
With the concerted investment, Zimbabwe has the potential to bridge the quality health gap in Africa and boost its earnings from medical tourism.
According to the International Medical Travel Journal, the global wellness tourism market was worth US$639,4 billion at the end of 2017.
There is huge scope for investment in the sector whose annual growth rate the journal puts at 6,5 percent, twice as fast as the growth of general global tourism.
India is one of the world’s largest beneficiaries of health tourism.
According to a 2019 CNN report done before Covid-19 disrupted global travel, India’s medical tourism industry had been projected to grow by 200 percent, hitting US$9 billion, according to that country’s Ministry of Tourism.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Mimosa Mining Company managing director Mr Fungai Makoni said the provision of quality healthcare in communities where the firm operated from was central to the platinum mining company’s objectives.
“Mimosa is prioritising partnerships that foster mutually beneficial relationships,” said Mr Makoni. “We have pursued a vibrant corporate social responsibility programme running under the twin themes of investing beyond mining and ‘let’s go zero’ initiatives.
“Out of these themes, numerous partnerships have been forged to address the needs of the community, while also advancing our social objectives.
“Through the CSR initiatives, various projects have been undertaken, both at a local and national level. The projects have focused on key areas such as education, health, environment, agriculture, sanitation and provision of clean potable water.”