Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT has allocated $28 million towards upgrading Manama Mission Hospital after noting that all the institution’s infrastructure does not meet modern health care standards.
The institution was damaged by heavy rains early this month, but Government says not only repair work is required but a major upgrade.
Already, $8 million has been released while the remaining $20 million will be availed as works progress. $5 million was availed through the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) while $3 million came through the Ministry of Health and Child Care. Uniformed forces will provide labour.
Government had initially released funds to repair damaged infrastructure but has further availed funds to upgrade the entire hospital’s infrastructure which is in a poor state.
The roofing at the hospital has leakages, plumbing services are not working, there are electrical faults, the ceiling in some wards is collapsing, windows are broken, toilets are in a poor state among other issues.
The rains, accompanied by strong winds which hit the area early this month, left the hospital without electricity and damaged solar panels, water tanks and telecommunications cables resulting in the suspension of critical services.
The roofs of the maternity ward, family and child health ward, female ward and antenatal clinic were blown off. The damage has led to the suspension of services such as the expanded programme of immunisation (EPI), maternity delivery services, postnatal care services, isolation of Covid-19 positive mothers, antenatal care services and integrated management of neonatal and childhood illnesses (IMNCI).
Four departments at the hospital were affected which has forced hospital staff to rely on four remaining wards for patients. People now have to travel to Sengenzana Clinic which is about 43 kilometres away from the hospital to access vaccination and immunisation services.
Manama Mission Hospital was built in 1939 by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ) using farm bricks and its roofing is a combination of corrugated iron and asbestos.
In an interview after a tour of the hospital yesterday, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr John Mangwiro said Government has realised that the hospital did not only require repairing of damaged infrastructure but upgrading of all infrastructure as it did not meet modern standards.
He raised concern over poor hygiene standards at the hospital which he described as the dirtiest health facility he has ever visited. He also raised concern over poor disposal of litter, filthy wards, toilets and bathrooms, and failure to dispose obsolete equipment among other issues. Dr Mangwiro implored the hospital administration to clean the institution and warned them against being negligent and compromising the hygiene of patients.
“We heard about this damage three weeks ago and the Permanent Secretary immediately dispatched an amount of $8 million to help rehabilitation of the damaged building and to ensure the hospital resumes its services. When this money has been used up and the damaged infrastructure repaired, the hospital will receive an additional $20 million which will go towards upgrading infrastructure.
More money will be coming in as need arises until this hospital meets the necessary standards in terms of infrastructure,” he said.
“As I was touring the hospital, I found that it’s in a state of disrepair. Toilets are not functional, there is no water coming out of taps, there are bare wires everywhere and leakages. These need to be taken care off, we can’t allow a half job to be done.
The hospital will need new plumbing systems, new electrification, new roofing, new ceiling and repainting. When I was touring this hospital, I was really disappointed by its state as it’s the dirtiest hospital I have ever seen.”
Dr Mangwiro said the uniformed forces have partnered with the other authorities to come up with a bill of quantities for rehabilitating the hospital. He said they will also start the process of cleaning the hospital. He said DDF, CMED and other stakeholders will be engaged to come in with vehicles in order to repair the hospital speedily.
He said additional infrastructure for offices and staff houses will also be built at the hospital. Dr Mangwiro said Government had also engaged the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) to ensure that the tendering process is completed timeously.
He said just like in other hospitals across the country, Government will construct houses and flats for doctors and nurses at Manama Mission Hospital.
“As Government we will definitely improve conditions of doctors and nurses at this hospital just like we are doing in other health facilities. We will build houses for senior doctors and flats for nurses and junior doctors.
“We will also look into staffing at the hospital. We want Manama Hospital to have five specialist doctors who will be resident here. This hospital should refer only highly complex conditions to Gwanda Provincial Hospital,” he said.
He said the hospital authorities should also train locals within the area in order to get their assistance in health care delivery.
Dr Mangwiro said treasury will allocate funds under next year’s budget towards construction of Gwanda Provincial Hospital which has been on the ropes for a very long time.
Also speaking during the event Ward 17 councillor, Mr Ephraim Nyathi said the community was relieved as Government had responded timeously to their plea to have the hospital rehabilitated. He said Manama Mission Hospital played a critical role as many communities depended on it.
“This hospital is our only hope, it has been our only hope for a long time and watching it in this state pains us as a community.
“We were wondering where we could turn to but now hope has been restored for us,” he said.
Gwanda district medical officer, Dr Blessing Gwarimbo said the hospital was short staffed. He said it was operating with 12 registered general nurses out of an expected 21.
He said the hospital did not have a doctor yet it is supposed to have three resident doctors. – @DubeMatutu