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Ekusileni fails to reopen again

by Staff reporter
30 Nov 2020 at 05:55hrs | Views
EKUSILENI Medical Centre in Bulawayo will once again not open today as projected following reports that contractors still need more time to work on mechanical ventilation and other areas.

The institution was expected to open with a 50-bed capacity and admit Covid-19 patients.

The hospital which has been designated as a Covid-19 centre, was closed more than 15 years ago when its equipment was declared obsolete. Ekusileni, a brainchild of the late Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo, has experienced a number of false starts and numerous efforts to reopen it have failed.

The hospital, whose building is owned by the National Social Security Authority (Nssa), was opened in 2001 and closed in 2004.

In September, however, there was hope that the institution would be reopened after the Government identified it as one of the institutions that were earmarked to house cases of Covid-19 in the city.

As of Saturday, Zimbabwe had 1 075 Covid-19 active cases and of those 386 are in Bulawayo, which for the past few weeks has been recording a high number of new infections and deaths. Ekusileni was designated as one of the Covid-19 treatment centres in Bulawayo but the Government wants it to be a specialist medical training centre post the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bulawayo is home to four designated centres, and three are all undergoing renovations since the outbreak of Covid-19. The others are Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital, the Old Bartley Memorial Block (BMB) within the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) which is now close to completion and privately-owned Mater Dei Hospital.

In response to questions on Ekusileni in Parliament last week, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said: "The previous set date for opening of the hospital is likely to be unattainable.

"The previous set date for opening of the hospital by Hon Vice-President and Minister of Health and Child Care, the Hon Rtd General Dr C G D N Chiwenga on 30th November 2020 is likely to be unattainable. Ekusileni tenders for infrastructure works were advertised in the Chronicle and the tender closed on November 16, 2020 and contractors and suppliers did a site visit on November 12 2020," said Dr Mangwiro.

He said once the work of completing Ekusileni begins, contractors will give the ministry a timeline.

"The mechanical ventilation might be the one needing more time, approximately six to eight weeks," said Dr Mangwiro.

"This can be reduced if they agree to work outside normal working hours and weekends as well. Private stakeholders are doing a wonderful job by donations of medical equipment."

He said the Government would complement donations by having Treasury allocation to Ekusileni to expedite works including buying of office furniture, medical equipment, transport and ambulances monthly budget.

According to Dr Mangwiro, Nssa that runs Ekusileni has confirmed, their $30 million donation is available through a letter written on October 13.

"Public Works will buy the required materials and work on infrastructural works that is within their scope so as to cut costs because supply and fix is too costly. The high value tenders, mechanical ventilation and autoclaves, kitchen wood are being handled by Public Works Head Office, Harare," said Dr Mangwiro.

"The teaching hospital aspect is being handled by the Dean of Nust and in essence, they want it to be the hub for medical tourism after Covid-19 pandemic is contained. The processes to lease the required sophisticated medical equipment are ongoing."

Source - chronicle