By Paidamoyo Chipunza
Eighty percent of the country’s health institutions have at least two months’ stock of essential medicines and 65 percent access to services, after Government resourced the sector in the period between February and June this year.
This is in line with the Second 100-Day Cycle of the implementation of Government priority projects.
Government has also planned to set up and revitalise surgical services at four provincial hospitals — St Luke’s, Lupane, in Matabeleland North Province, Marondera in Mashonaland East Province, Masvingo and Mutare hospitals.
In an interview with The Herald yesterday, Mashonaland East provincial medical director Dr Simukai Zizhou said Marondera Hospital was now close to self-sufficiency regarding surgical cases.
“We have managed to reduce waiting periods for our patients requiring surgical services, with most of them now getting services almost immediately at the hospital without being referred to a central hospital as was the case before,” said Dr Zizhou.
He said the hospital was allocated four obstetricians, two ophthalmologists, one surgeon and two orthopaedics, bringing the total number of specialists at the institution to 15, including other specialists who were at the hospital before.
Dr Zizhou said as a result of the increased number of specialists at the provincial hospital, the gynaecology and obstetrics clinic was open every Monday to Friday and the theatre once a week.
“The only challenge that we have now is that we have not been having these specialist services before, hence we are not well-equipped to serve the huge numbers we are seeing now hence we need upgrading of the intensive care unit as well as the theatre for us to cope,” said Dr Zizhou.
Manicaland provincial medical director Dr Patron Mafaune said Mutare General Hospital did not have a permanent surgeon and was relying on one who had retired, making it difficult to provide surgical services at the shortest possible time.
“We would have to refer some cases and those that could be handled at the institution would have to be on a waiting list,” said Dr Mafaune.
She, however said, Government recently provided a young surgeon who is also working with other expatriate surgeons in offering services to patients.
“I have not heard any issues regarding referrals from Mutare General Hospital and I suppose they are now managing,” said Dr Mafaune.
Masvingo PMD, Dr Amadeous Shamu said while there were few cases being referred to central hospitals, most surgical services were provided for at Masvingo General Hospital.
“We still need some specialist doctors in areas such as orthopaedic and anaesthetics,” said Dr Shamu.
Matabeleland North PMD Dr Pugie Chimberengwa said St Luke’s Mission Hospital, which is serving as the provincial hospital is currently offering gynaecological surgeries.
He said the hospital was also upgrading its theatre.
“We are also still working on recruiting a surgeon but we have not yet found any takers because of the remoteness of Lupane,” said Dr Chimberengwa.
On the other hand, central hospitals have also reported improved availability of essential medicines.
Chitungwiza Central Hospital CEO Dr Enock Mayida said the hospital’s stock levels were above 75 percent.
“We applaud efforts being made by President Mnangagwa to ensure that we have adequate stocks,” said Dr Mayida.
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals spokesperson Mr Linos Dhire said the institution was currently sitting on 60 percent of vital medicines in stock, which can last for the next three months. Mr Dhire however said there were challenges with some isolated items but the hospital continue to make efforts to secure them.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said Government will continue to work towards meeting its set targets.
He said the latest assistance by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the instigation of His Excellency, President Mnangagwa towards re-stocking increased national stocks to 62 percent against a target of 80 percent.
“There has been general improvement as a result of interventions made by His Excellency through the UAE and also our internal processes. Equally, availability of functioning equipment has also improved,” said Dr Moyo.
He said Government will continue to explore ways of revitalising the health sector to meet and surpass set targets.
Dr Moyo said Government was working with some Indian investors who were assisting to set up bonded warehouses in the country. He said these bonded warehouses, once complete and rolling would enable not only Government institutions but also private pharmacies to get medicines locally at lower prices, thereby improving on both availability and affordability of pharmaceutical products.
In addition, Dr Moyo said Government was also engaging with a Chinese company, which has since expressed interest in supplying the country with active pharmaceutical ingredients. He said the active pharmaceutical ingredients were expected to assist in toll manufacturing of pharmaceuticals with local manufacturers.
“UAE has committed to giving us medicines and sundries for the next year, which will be delivered in six-month trenches but in addition to that, they have also offered to establish a pharmaceutical plant here in Zimbabwe.
“This assistance, together with these other initiatives I have mentioned earlier will help us not only to meet our target but even to surpass it,” said Dr Moyo.
Regarding medical equipment, Dr Moyo said again the assistance facilitated by President Mnangagwa from both UAE and from India with Government funding will contribute immensely to an efficient public health delivery system.
“We are working on commissioning of most of the equipment we received from both India and UAE and once that has been complete, we also anticipate that service delivery will equally improve in our public health institutions,” said Dr Moyo.
The Second Republic adopted the 100-day cycle programme to increase effectiveness and create operational efficiencies in the implementation of national priority projects.