The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
PLANS to open Ekusileni Medical Centre in Bulawayo for cardiac treatment and procedures is a step in the right direction as it will reduce costs for patients who have been seeking help from as far as India, Italy and South Africa.
Surgeries for people with heart diseases were previously performed at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare but they were halted following a myriad of challenges ranging from specialists’ shortages, lack of equipment and associated costs.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care said they were working in collaboration with the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) to get personnel who would man the hospital as they begin the journey of setting up a cardiology centre at Ekusileni.
“Nust will be using it as a place where doctors can be trained. It is going to be a specialist hospital that will be concentrating on cardiac surgeries or cardiac problems but most of the lecturers will be coming from Nust. Mpilo and UBH will definitely be working with the local university because most lecturers or doctors are the same people who are the lecturers,” Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro said in an interview.
He said they were going to get the necessary help from the Nust Medical School that has already embarked on identifying technical experts who would assist in running Ekusileni which would be transformed into a specialist medical training institution.
Children with cardiac heart diseases in Zimbabwe have been getting assistance from cardiologists who visit All Saints Hospital in Mutoko annually to identify children in need of surgery and sponsor them to Italy for the surgeries free of charge.
However, the Italian doctors can only sponsor a few children annually leaving many unattended but the transformation of Ekusileni into a specialist hospital for cardiac cases will see many patients being assisted locally.
There was an outcry recently after parents of children with congenital heart diseases (CHD) admitted to Mpilo Central Hospital raised concerns over the hospital’s decision to remove affected children from a specialised bay to a general ward in order to house Covid-19 patients.
The parents were complaining that children with heart diseases were vulnerable to infections hence they needed to be in an isolated unit away from children with other diseases.
The parents are optimistic that when the cardiac centre is opened at Ekusileni Medical Centre, children with heart diseases will get an opportunity to get treatment locally and also the life saving heart surgeries that they have been travelling to India, Italy and South Africa for.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Child Care is in the process of constructing 33-bedded clinics in Bulawayo, Mberengwa and Chimanimani to assist in health service delivery.
The ministry recently completed the bedded clinics in Southlea Park in Harare. Health posts which are located in villages will also be constructed with the ministry targeting to complete 30 sites per annum.
In a bid to curb the issue of under-staffing in the country’s health institutions, Dr Mangwiro said they were on a recruitment drive and have also started recruiting retired health workers to come and aid in the health institutions.
Ekusileni Medical Centre opened its doors to the public in 2021 and it has been operating as a Covid-19 Medical Centre since then. The Ministry of Health said they are working on getting approvals for the respective staff establishment from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. – @NyembeziMu