The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
CONSTRUCTION of the Lupane Provincial Hospital in Matabeleland North is set to start this month after the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development made a commitment to fund the project.
Matabeleland North provincial medical director Dr Purgie Chimberengwa said all the preliminary works have been completed and construction will start as soon as Finance and Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube announced in his mid-year Budget Review Statement that the Procurement Authority of Zimbabwe had also approved the project.
“Work will start quite soon, so far we have had meetings where we handed over the site to the contractor which is the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing on 26 June, who will oversee the development works,” he said.
The hospital whose first phase will commence following US$10 million cash injection will be completed in phases.
“This is a huge facility that needs to be built in phases, so Phase One has been supported to the tune of US$10 million.
“It will cover sections such as outpatients, pharmacy, junior staff accommodation, administration, Zesa sub-station and we are still trying to convince them that we need a stores department which is key for the function of any hospital.
“Those are the main buildings that we will have in this phase,” said Dr Chimberengwa.
Construction of the hospital was set to be done years ago but was abandoned in 2006 due to shortage of funds.
“. . . so there are existing structures but they are incomplete so they will be included and completed together with the new buildings so that the provincial hospital can start functioning,” he said.
The PMD said the new hospital was key as the province has been using St Luke’s Hospital which is a mission institution run by the Catholic Church.
“The mission also has its own trajectory, although we share common goal of service delivery.
“When we get our own provincial hospital it means that the establishment changes, there would be need for more nurses and specialist doctors and these will feed into the service delivery that we are looking at,” he added.
Once completed, the health institution is also set to reduce the numbers of referrals to Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo which was also accommodating patients referred from the province.
Dr Chimberengwa, however, said a maternity wing will not be included in Phase One although it is part of the master plan.
“The first phase is looking at departments like casualty and outpatients so the other services like maternity will be covered by St Luke’s while construction of the hospital is going on.
“There is a huge maternity wing which will then be completed at a later stage; looking at the available funds we looked at the critical departments that are needed to start the hospital. We will be expanding the hospital as time goes on,” he added.
Since Independence Matabeleland North has been using St Luke’s as a referral institution and it is the only province which does not have a provincial hospital.
Last month St Luke’s Hospital was gutted by fire, destroying property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Vaccines, nutritional supplements, cancer screening equipment and registers for pregnant women referred from clinics were all destroyed.