Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa is today set to officially open the country’s first free orthopaedic hospital, Cure Children’s Hospital and a Covid-19 designated treatment and isolation centre at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) as the Second Republic steps up efforts to improve Bulawayo’s health care system.
The commissioning of the two institutions is a true reflection of Government’s commitment to transforming the sector into a national healthcare system that is in tandem with international best practices in line with Vision 2030.
Government refurbished the Old Bartley’s Memorial Block at UBH to set-up the Covid-19 isolation centre with a 50-bed capacity which started admitting Covid-19 patients in December last year.
Upon its opening, the centre admitted 16 patients. It will at any given time admit 100 patients referred from hospitals in the Matabeleland region.
It was the first of the three-public Covid-19 centres in the city to open its doors to patients. The other public centres are Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital, Ekusileni Medical Centre and the privately-owned Mater Dei Hospital.
President Mnangagwa arrived in Bulawayo yesterday evening for the commissioning of the two facilities. He was accompanied by the Vice President, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga, Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri, Local Government Minister July Moyo, State Security Minister Owen Ncube and Agriculture Minister Dr Anxious Masuka.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister, Judith Ncube and security chiefs welcomed them.
Minister Ncube said the hospitals will greatly improve the quality of health services in Bulawayo.
She said the children’s hospital is one of the best institutions catering for minors.
“We are thankful to the Government that we were able to get this support. Other players are coming to complement what the Government is doing,” the Minister said.
She said Covid-19 patients are set to receive the best care and medical attention at the isolation centre.
Cure Children’s Hospital of Zimbabwe which specialises in the treatment and care of children with physical disabilities, opened its doors in January and was fully licensed to operate in February.
The $5 million hospital was built and refurbished by the Zimbabwe Orthopaedic Trust (ZOT) in partnership with the Government and comprises four buildings, housing 45 beds.
In 2020, Cure International — a Christian non-governmental organisation joined the ZOT to form the Cure Children’s Hospital of Zimbabwe which specialises in the treatment and care of children with physical disabilities.
Part of its role is to treat free of charge persons aged 18 and below with conditions like neglected club-foot, bowed legs, cleft lips, untreated burns and other treatable disabilities.
The facility is the eighth hospital in the Cure network and the seventh in Africa.
Cure Children’s Hospital of Zimbabwe spokesperson Ms Rachael Ngwarai said they chose to set up the hospital in Bulawayo because there was already an existing infrastructure.
“When Cure decided to partner Government in this project, they had in mind the revamping of the Bulawayo Orthopaedic Centre at UBH.
When Cure joined hands with ZOT, they realised that there was a huge gap in this specialised medical field,” she said.
Ms Ngwarai said the children that they serve have conditions like clubfoot, bowed legs, cleft lips, untreated burns, and hydrocephalus.
Statistics show that more than 370 000 children are living with treatable conditions such as neglected club-foot, bowed legs and knock knees in Zimbabwe.
Ms Ngwarai said the facility has 45 beds and presently there are five patients admitted.
“Right now, we are working with 20 beds simply because of the capacity of our surgeons. Once we have more surgeons on board, we will be able to work at full capacity. Our staff complement comprises 47 people,” she said. Ms Ngwarai said since Cure hospitals were established in 1996, they have performed more than 213 800 procedures.
“We are connected to a donor network and they provide free healthcare to children throughout the world. Without treatment, they will have little hope for a future,” she said.
Ms Ngwarai said plans are underway to expand the hospital from the current 45 beds to 200 including establishing mobile clinics across the country to reach out to different communities.
“Our long-term plan is to set up mobile clinics so that we are able to reach out to children in remote parts of the country who might not be able to travel to Bulawayo. Currently, we have one surgeon and we intend to bring two more,” she said.
“We want to invest more in the country’s healthcare system through introducing training programmes for surgeons across the country and equipping them with new skills.”
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) executive committee member, Mr Ben Moyo said the hospitals being commissioned will have a huge impact on the generality of residents.
A Chronicle news crew recently spoke to one of the patients, Sean’s mother who described her son’s surgery as a miracle from above.
She said she was hesitant to inquire about total cost of having doctors help her son recover as she knew she would not afford to pay.
Her son was involved in an accident on his way from school last year and he was forced to be on crutches after sustaining serious injuries on his left leg.
“We continued taking him to the hospital for check-ups and sometime in February one of the lead surgeons here Dr Collin Msasanure told us about this hospital. I was humbled when they called asking if I could bring my son for an operation which I knew I would not afford,” said Ms Beverly Kadzambi.
Ms Kadzambi said she was so relieved when they said they only wanted my prayers and nothing more.
She told Chronicle that her son was recovering well and was happy that he would be able to walk properly once again without crutches. — @mashnets