THE late Vice-President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo must be smiling in his grave following the reopening of the 200-bed Ekusileni Medical Centre in Bulawayo.
The hospital is the brainchild of Dr Nkomo who did not want Zimbabweans to be forced to seek specialist medical services outside the country.
The $4 million-hospital whose construction was funded by the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) has been a white elephant for 17 years.
The hospital, which is now a national Covid-19 centre, opened its doors to the public on Tuesday this week and admitted its first two patients on the day.
The hospital has started with a capacity of 70 beds but the authorities said it will limit admissions to 20 patients due to limited staff and resources.
The state-of-the-art medical facility whose construction was completed in 2001, operated for just seven months before it was closed in 2004 after it was discovered that the acquired equipment worth millions of dollars, was obsolete.
A number of organisations, companies and individuals have donated an assortment of equipment and other resources that has enabled the reopening of the hospital.
When Dr Nkomo advocated for the construction of the hospital, he wanted it to provide specialist medical care and admission of Covid-19 patients only, we want to believe, is just temporary.
The Medical Centre was meant to serve not only the country but the entire southern African region.
When the hospital operates at full throttle providing specialist medical care as was envisaged when it was mooted, the number of people seeking such services outside the country will be drastically reduced.
Many Zimbabweans seek specialist treatment in countries such as South Africa, Namibia, India, United Kingdom, US and Russia but most of the specialist doctors working in those countries are Zimbabweans.
This is a confirmation that Zimbabwe has the required expertise and Nssa has provided the required infrastructure through Ekusileni Hospital which local specialists should ride on.
Government has an obligation to fulfil Dr Nkomo’s wish for most of the specialist medical care to be provided locally as opposed to individuals seeking such services in other countries.
We want at this juncture to implore Government and its partners to provide the required resources to enable the hospital to operate as a specialist medical care centre as envisaged by the late Vice-President Nkomo.
The opening of the hospital on Tuesday is a very positive development and we want to believe is the first step towards fulfilling Dr Nkomo’s dream.