The Sunday News
THE reopening of Ekusileni Medical Centre in Bulawayo all but shows the commitment that Government has to ensure service delivery in the city and the entire Matabeleland region.
The hospital had remained a white elephant for about 15 years due to obsolete equipment after it was opened in 2000 and closed in 2004. Since then, the reopening of the hospital, a brainchild of the late Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo and built by the National Social Security Authority (Nssa), experienced a number of false starts.
Several efforts to reopen the institution constantly hit a snag largely due to poor funding, but all that changed when the Government, under President Mnangagwa, initiated funding and worked with private players and local personalities to make sure that Dr Nkomo’s vision is fulfilled.
Under Vision 2030, Zimbabwe is targeting upgrading health provision leading to an improvement in peoples’ lives.
Before the coming in of the Second Republic in 2017, many citizens flocked to international destinations in search of quality healthcare as systems had deteriorated in the country.
Upon its opening, Ekusileni Medical Centre admitted two Covid-19 patients. The hospital has been declared a national Covid-19 centre. The opening of the hospital will ease the pressure on other isolation centres in the city which were fast running out of bed space.
The hospital’s acting chief executive officer, Dr Absolom Dube, was all smiles last week as he narrated to the media the long and rewarding journey to reopen the facility.
“Honestly, it hasn’t been an easy road to find ourselves where we are now, but all the same we have reached this far through the support of Government, private sector, well-wishers both local and in the diaspora and church leaders.
They managed to come in and put their hands to enable us to get everything that we wanted for us to reach that level where we are now admitting Covid-19 patients.”
Dr Dube said over the past one year, they have been working on addressing some of the pertinent issues.
“I am glad we managed to satisfy the inspectors from Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe and Health Professions Authority. They came in over the last few weeks and they indicated that they were quite happy with our level of preparedness although we are going to take patients up to the level of mild to moderate cases,” he said.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube said the opening of Ekusileni will help decongest Mpilo Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) and ease pressure on medical staff in those hospitals.
“The hospital is now admitting Covid-19 patients and that means we are now able to decongest Mpilo Central Hospital and UBH and ease pressure on medical staff in those institutions. We are grateful to the Government and His Excellency President Mnangagwa, in particular, for facilitating the opening of Ekusileni Medical Centre. This facility hasn’t been operating for several years and through His Excellency, the President’s efforts, he made prioritised its opening.”
Minister Ncube said the success was a result of collective effort from various partners. It is a 250-bedded hospital but is opening in a phased manner. It started off with 15-25 beds, and will move to 50 and then 100 and then to full capacity as time goes on, according to officials.
The Government says good health is central to human happiness and well-being. It also makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and accumulate more savings. It is behind that background that Government has in recent years put in massive resources towards health delivery.
“Health is a fundamental human right in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, hence the overall outcome of the Health sector during the (National Development Strategy 1) NDS1 Period is to improve quality of life, and improve life expectancy at birth from the current 61 years to 65 years . . . The focus of the NDS1 is to increase Public Health Expenditure Per Capita from USD$30,29 in 2020 to USD$86 by 2025,” according to the Government economic blueprint, NDS1 document.