Govt committed to operationalising Ekusileni Hospital: Chiwenga

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has committed himself to address the ‘shortcomings’ that have affected the operationalisation of Ekusileni Medical Centre in Bulawayo, adding that once functional it would be expanded to become a referral hospital, research centre and teaching institution all in one.

The brainchild of the late vice president, Joshua Nkomo, Ekusileni was designated to be a national Covid-19 referral centre in April with a possible 200-bed capacity but its doors have remained shut, as it is still undergoing renovations and infrastructural changes.

Giving his official remarks after touring the hospital on Friday, VP Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child, said his ministry would attend to shortcomings highlighted in the presentations by the hospital staff to make sure the facility is ready to take up Covid-19 cases.

“The purpose of my visit to Ekusileni Hospital, which will culminate into tours of other Hospitals is to receive an appraisal on the state of preparedness of the institution and also in my capacity as the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care and also receive a donation, courtesy of “I Am For Bulawayo Fighting COVID Trust,” he said.

Before the tour of the hospital, VP Chiwenga met Ekusileni officials and other local health officials in a closed-door briefing.

“My ministry and concerned stakeholders will attend to shortcomings highlighted in the presentations by the Hospital Staff in a concerted bid to make sure that the facility is ready to take up Covid-19 cases. The idea of increasing referral hospitals dovetails with the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s ongoing restructuring exercise I pronounced last month. In our effort to ‘leave no one behind,’ as espoused in our motto, the Ministry will make sure that our citizens easily access medical facilities, without enduring long journeys,” he said.

“It is in this light, that we are gathered here today to witness the progress made in the transformation of Ekusileni Hospital, designated as one of the referral centres in Bulawayo. In the initial phase, Ekusileni Hospital will be operationalised as a National Covid-19 Referral Centre, in conformance with the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Government, Ministry of Health and Child Care, National Social Security Authority (NSSA), National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Bulawayo City Council, and “I Am for Bulawayo Fighting COVID19 Trust.”

In the second phase, Cabinet had approved that Ekusileni is utilised as a Specialist, Research and Teaching institution after curbing the Covid-19 Pandemic.

“This subsequent phase is to be run by NUST and other stakeholders. Therefore this institution shall be expanded and all what is needed will have to be provided so that it becomes a teaching referral, a research it will be one of our quinary hospitals,” VP Chiwenga said.

He added the upgrading of Ekusileni Hospital so it could be ready for Covid-19 case management, involved a lot of renovations and infrastructural works that are still in progress.

“The vision and aspiration may not be achievable, without the support of Non-Governmental Organisations, Agencies and other stakeholders such as the, “I Am For Bulawayo Fighting Covid-19. The trust has already delivered an assortment of medical apparatus that include; Hospital beds, mattresses, bed-side cabinets, drip stands, footstools, cardiac tables and Dressing trolleys among other donations,” he said.

The VP noted that he would make sure that the Trust receives a rebate to nullify the amounts paid as duty, for donated hospital equipment.

“The Ministry of Health and Child Care will assist in the facilitation of an Exemption Certificate for the donated medical equipment. I appreciate the benevolent gesture that has given Ekusileni Hospital a new lease of life. Thank you very much for the mobilisation of resources,” he said.

“Let me conclude by reaffirming that, as the name of the Hospital implies, ‘Ekusileni,’ indeed dawn has come for the institution. The development is a cause for celebration and an exhibition of the hard work the Government, my ministry and other stakeholders are putting into efforts to improve our Health Service Delivery. Public Health remains a major priority in our collective efforts to improve and maintain a conducive environment for our present and future generations.”

Chiwenga was accompanied by Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution in  Bulawayo, Judith Ncube; Minister of Local Government and Public Works, July Moyo;  Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Raymore Machingura; Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Lovemore Matuke; Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Culture and Rural Resettlement, Peter Haritatos; and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Air Commodore, Dr Jasper Chimedza.

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