The Sunday News
THE country’s economic blueprint, the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) document acknowledges that good health is central to human happiness and well-being. In addition, good health makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and accumulate more savings.
The blueprint further points out that: “Health is a fundamental human right in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, hence the overall outcome of the Health sector during the NDS1 period is to improve the quality of life, and improve life expectancy at birth from the current 61 years to 65 years.”
There is no doubt that the Zimbabwean Health System has some strengths such as a skilled and knowledgeable health workforce and firm Primary Health and Hospital Care foundations.
“The Health sector is also faced with critical shortage of specialised professionals and health-care staff, demotivated staff who go on strikes, dilapidated hospital infrastructure, lack of essential medicines and commodities, inadequate emergency services for delivery and under-utilisation of existing antenatal services,” according to the NDS1 document.
However, there have been massive strides in recent years to improve working conditions for health care workers in the country. There has also been a deliberate approach to improve the health care infrastructure with renovations made on existing facilities and new ones also built.
We note the wonderful work that has been done at the United Bulawayo Hospitals, which has just completed a state-of-the-art laboratory, the first in Zimbabwe, with a view of opening in July. The health sector is one of the Second Republic’s key deliverables towards the thrust of having an upper middle-class economy by 2030 with over 50 health facilities being opened so far in the county.
“We are building a laboratory and it is a very big structure and the first of its kind in the country. The laboratory will have a number of areas that cover patient investigation. It is almost 95 percent complete and we expect the contractor will hand it over at the end of May. The next phase is to room load, and we have already approached the Permanent Secretary for Health to assist with equipment,” he said.
The laboratory will house nine departments including Haematology, Biochemistry, Histopathology, Immunology/Serology, a Blood bank, Microbiology and Viral Load/Tuberculosis testing. The laboratory at UBH is a small unit that has seen all other services being outsourced. This has caused patient movement to outside areas which he said was problematic.
Furthermore, officials at UBH have also conceptualised another idea of the specialised hospital and shared it with the Department of Public Works which will design the proposed hospital. A feasibility study will map out costs, plans, and availability of land for the hospital.
In an interview, UBH Chief Medical Officer, Dr William Busumani said the city was ready to have a super-specialist institution offering high-quality specialised care for patients from Bulawayo and beyond.
“We want to make UBH a super-specialist centre, a centre of excellence in terms of super specialisation. We have plans to construct a Quinary Surgical Hospital, a quinary hospital is one that has these super specialist services. Currently, we are offering a number of services. We have a neurosurgeon, and we are operating the brain now at UBH. What we are hoping to offer soon is dialysis, we do not have that service at UBH, we will need the machines and space to work from and these are in our plans. We are hoping to start working on the Quinary Surgical Hospital soon. We have made submissions to the Permanent Secretary for Health and we have gotten in touch with Public Works and we described the kind of structure that we want. Soon, their architects will come up with the drawings of this hospital,” said Dr Busumani.
When UBH was constructed it was a cluster of small hospitals dotted all over the institution. The plan is to develop it into a modern facility with all clusters coming under one building. That is the idea of a Quinary Hospital structure.