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No date for Ekusileni Medical Centre opening

by Staff reporter
26 Apr 2020 at 12:08hrs | Views
EVEN the threat of coronavirus might fail to finally see the doors of Ekusileni Hospital in Bulawayo opened.

The hospital, a brainchild of late Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo, has experienced a number of false starts and numerous efforts to re-open the institution whose building is owned by the National Social Security Company (Nssa) have failed.

The hospital was opened in 2001 and closed in 2004 because it had outdated equipment. Last month, however, there was hope that the institution would be re-opened after the Government identified the centre as one of the institutions that was earmarked to house cases of the coronavirus (Covid-19) in the city.

In fact, a number of other dormant hospitals in many cities got a lifeline as the Government and other stakeholders came together to spruce up and re-open the facilities to prepare them to handle the cases.

In Hwange even an abandoned building has been refurbished while in Kwekwe a former council bar has been converted into an Covid-19 isolation centre. But not Ekusileni!

It has since emerged that despite the probable danger that Bulawayo could face if the number of Covid-19 cases spike, no date has been set for the projected re-opening of Ekusileni Hospital.

The Government had early this month tasked a grouping of prominent businesses and academics under the banner "IAM4BYO-Fighting Covid-19 initiative" a week to be able to admit their first 50 patients at the hospital.

However, the initiative has said they need to raise US$3,7 million before they commit themselves to a date for the centre's re-opening.

Responding to written questions from Sunday News, the initiative's chairperson, Mr Busisa Moyo said they required US$10,7 million for all the targeted projects of which Ekusileni Hospital needs 35 percent of the total.

He, however, revealed a number of individuals and corporates have been coming forward donating towards the eventual re-opening of the centre.

"The initiative needs US$10,7 million to be ready and Ekusileni Hospital needs about 35 percent of this amount to be functional. We are not only working on Ekusileni but as an initiative we are focusing on Bulawayo institutions earmarked for Covid-19 by the Government and which we are raising money from local non-state actors, global philanthropies and the diaspora," said Mr Moyo.

The hospitals identified by Government in Bulawayo are Mpilo, Thorngrove, Mater Dei and Ekusileni. He said the support the initiative has received since the launch has been encouraging with companies coming in with various equipment to be installed at the identified hospitals.

"The response has been good and momentum has been building since our launch on Good Friday. Oxygen connection has been completed compliment of BOC Gases, we have received donations from United Refineries, Treger Group, Arenel, Bulawayo-Beitbridge Railway, Old Mutual, City Link, World Vision and many others. Electrosales also donated six geysers of which four will go to Thorngrove and two to Ekusileni,

"Individuals like Colonel Tshinga Dube, Bulukani Masola, Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and others have donated cows to feed caregivers and frontline staff, those who may need hospital care due to Covid-19 and volunteers," said Mr Moyo.

He said the initiative also got support from the Higher Life Foundation that committed to resourcing office operations and support from national level trusts like Solidarity Trust Zimbabwe, Business Fighting Covid-19, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries and the Business Preparedness Response Initiative (BPRI).

Mr Moyo said the initiative was aimed at making an impact in Bulawayo and ensure the city is ready in case of upsurge in Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, the initiative is also working to complement Government's effort to feed food-insecure families in the city, with concerns that the number of vulnerable people could increase due to the lockdown.

"Bulawayo has approximately 160 000 food insecure families prior to Covid-19 and 50 000 families in extreme poverty, these numbers are likely to increase. We have received support from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare who have identified these families and local churches who have been a major contributor to our efforts.

"To this effort, SeedCo Group, ROIL cooking oil and local fresh vegetable farmers have donated mealie-meal, cooking oil and vegetables for the vulnerable groups," said Mr Moyo.

Source - sundaynews