Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT has started constructing a 60-bed state-of-the art health facility in Bulawayo’s Cowdray Park suburb in line with the Second Republic’s commitment to accelerate the provision of adequate social infrastructure.
The facility, which Government is constructing in partnership with a British company, NMS Infrastructure Limited, is part of 30 clinics set to be built around the country through a US$200 million loan facility from the United Kingdom government.
NMS Infrastructure has signed a US$210 million contract with the Ministry of Health and Child Care for three 200-bed district hospitals and 30 health centres for the enhancement of public healthcare across the country.
Last week, President Mnangagwa officially opened Stoneridge Health Centre in Harare, one of the clinics built under the loan facility as he lived up to his promise of delivering universal access to healthcare.
The massive Cowdray Park Clinic will have female, male, paediatric, pre-natal and post-natal wards, a delivery room, minor theatre, consultation rooms, environmental room, guidance and counselling rooms, laboratory and isolation wards where patients will be treated under observation, among other facilities.
It is expected to boost the suburb’s health care provision and bring the health services close to residents who are travelling to other suburbs or to town to seek services.
Cowdray Park is Bulawayo’s largest suburb with more than 16 000 households. The suburb at one point was singled out as a hotspot for the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chronicle yesterday visited the site of the clinic and observed construction workers clearing land and assembling light steel frames, which are structural material used for walls, ceilings and roof support.
A concrete slab has already been put with structural material set to be mounted following their delivery from Zambia yesterday.
Bulawayo provincial medical director, Dr Maphios Siamuchembu said the new facility will be able to admit patients needing minor surgical procedures such as Caesarean section.
“There is a clinic that is being constructed in Cowdray Park and it is going to be run by the Government as opposed to the rest of clinics which are run by the City Council. The facility is actually not a hospital, but a polyclinic that will be able to admit patients,” he said.
The clinic will obviously not be able to address all the healthcare needs of the Cowdray Park residents and as such some cases will continue to be referred to big institutions like Mpilo Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals.
Dr Siamuchembu said given a huge population in Cowdray Park, which is situated far from any health facility within the metropolitan province, the new facility will become the first port of call for residents in terms of healthcare services.
NMS Infrastructure area manager responsible for overseeing the construction of NMS health facilities in Zimbabwe, Mr Tafadzwa Chimucheka said they expect to complete the work within two months.
“We received our structural material consisting of light steel frames, which is a new technology whereby we use steel as the main structural material for walls, ceilings and roof support. We have brought pieces that will be joined together to form the wall and ceiling,” he said.
Mr Chimucheka said they are providing roofing sheets and assembling steel frames, which will take them two months while another contractor Manifest Construction and Engineering Company will do the plastering among other civil works.
He said the project has also created employment for locals and empowered women.
About 20 locals, mostly women, have been engaged to clear the site and assemble steel frames as well as offering security services.
Ward 28 Councillor Kidwell Mujuru said the health facility will address challenges faced by residents who were forced to travel to neighbouring suburbs such as Luveve to access health care.
“Given its size and population, Cowdray Park suburb has no hospital and residents relied on clinics in other suburbs. Government is building a 60-bed state-of-the-art clinic at the Empompini area and work has started with some of the material having been delivered,” he said.
Cowdray Park suburb is set to become a distinct city as the Government is mooting plans to create a “stand-alone city” within the city of Bulawayo. The suburb has been identified as a site for a smart city.
The proposal, if it comes to fruition, will change the face of Cowdray Park, one of the largest suburbs in the city with about 76 500 residents. — @mashnets