President Emmerson Mnangagwa says although the Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged the country and globally community, in Zimbabwe it has turned to be a “blessing in disguise”.
He said the pandemic had given his government an opportunity to upgrade abandoned public health facilities across the country.
Government health institutions in Zimbabwe have in recent years deteriorated to alarming levels due to lack of maintenance and equipping them with machinery and drugs.
This saw senior state government and Zanu PF officials and their families including ministers travelling out of the country shunning the neglected and ill-equipped facilities.
For years, the government has also been unwilling to improve the welfare of public healthcare workers resulting in thousands of them seeking greener pastures in other countries leaving hospitals without critical staff.
However, due to the global movement restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, travel for treatment outside Zimbabwe has been seriously curtailed and senior government officials were forced to seek health management locally.
This has forced the government to upgrade most public health centres across the country.
Addressing Zanu PF supporters in Kwekwe Thursday, Mnangagwa said Covid-19 was a wake-up call for his government to improve the country’s ailing health systems.
He was speaking after receiving his second Covid-19 vaccination at Kwekwe General Hospital.
“The pandemic has been a blessing in disguise as it has made us to focus on the country’s health system. We started by upgrading central hospitals. You will even wish to spent a night in those hospitals as they are now up to standard,” Mnangagwa told party supporters.
“All the efforts to contain and combat the pandemic are the quest by my government to achieve universal health coverage through strong primary and secondary health care systems.
“We want our health systems to combat Covid-19 and other diseases. In as much as what Covid-19 has caused it has been a blessing in disguise. The provision of basic accessible, adequate and affordable health services now remains a priority. Several health care facilities have been upgraded, whilst others are under construction throughout Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mnangagwa admitted that if it was not for Covid-19 probably his government was not going to expedite the disbursement of $21 million to fund the upgrading of Kwekwe General Hospital.
“This shows government’s commitment of living no-one and no place behind.”
Mnangagwa also applauded the local authorities for using government availed devolution funds to combat the Covid-19 scourge.
“I want to applaud local authorities who have prudently used devolution funds for constructing and equipping of health facilities at the community level. Comprehensive health policies are in place to resuscitate our pharmaceutical industry in a bid to improve access to essential medicines by our citizens.
“In addition, strategies towards the integration of conventional and traditional medicines are also being implemented. It is equally encouraging that institutions of higher learning are investing in research and development of traditional medicines and this will ensure self-development and deployment of our heritage knowledge system to tackle the pandemic as well as communicable and non-communicable diseases,” he said.