President honours promise to doctors

Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
President Mnangagwa yesterday fulfilled his commitment to improve the state of affairs in public health institutions, three months after meeting senior doctors who presented to him how the public health delivery system had deteriorated.

In fulfilling the request, he handed over a consignment of medical equipment which included infant incubators and resuscitators for the neonatal intensive care unit, multi-parameter monitors for adults and paediatrics, operating theatre tables (electric and hydraulic), portable electroncephalography machine, respiratory aid ventilator, and video endoscopy, gastroscopy and colonoscopy sets.

He also handed over intensive care unit ventilators for adults and paediatrics, mobile X-ray machines and anaesthetic machines.

Officially handing over the equipment, President Mnangagwa said a majority of the equipment on the doctor’s wish list was bought.

“The doctors came to State House and explained their working conditions. The conditions of service, the equipment, the tools of their trade. I really felt sympathetic,” said President Mnangagwa.

“So, I promised them that despite the lack of resources, I will do my best to source the equipment you want. You submit your list and indeed they did so. This is less than three months ago.”

President Mnangagwa said following submission of the list, he got resources to purchase what the doctors longed for.

“I am glad to say in excess of 85 percent of what they requested has so far been purchased and the first phase of the equipment is the one displayed here. More than what we have is still coming,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said the doctors should be thanked for their courageous gesture, which has resulted in all central hospitals benefiting from this essential equipment.

He urged the doctors and nurses who will be using the new equipment to guard against thefts and abuse.

President Mnangagwa further said the health sector must be prioritised as it was important to promote the nation’s health.

He said as such, children and the elderly must be offered free healthcare while patients with conditions such as cancer or in need of dialysis must not pay.

“We must give priority to the health sector because it is critically important that our people are healthy and when you are not well, we should have a health system that should assist our people.

“What we have not achieved, which I think is necessary is as we go forward, we should make more and more liberal policies towards allowing access to health.

“We should be able to persuade the Ministry of Finance politically to loosen up so that we give more and more attention to this sector,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said there was also need to strengthen primary healthcare such that people do not need to travel to central hospitals seeking treatment.

He said people in rural areas should be able to be treated from where they stay.

Speaking at the same occasion, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said for the past 20 years, the country’s public health sector had been deteriorating.

He, however, said because of the President’s re-engagement and engagement agenda, the situation was improving tremendously.

“I am happy your Excellency to inform you that there has been a remarkable improvement in the availability of medicines which has brought much relief amongst both our medical practitioners and our patients.

“We are happy Your Excellency that the road to recovery is improving by each day through your personal involvement,” said Minister Moyo.

He said regarding the new equipment, President Mnangagwa availed a fund, which was used for purchasing the equipment through an accelerated procurement system from India.

“I must emphasise that, had we used our local agents to procure this equipment, we would have been able to buy for only one hospital instead. However, because we purchased direct from source through an accelerated process, we were able to purchase equipment for all five central hospitals,” said Dr Moyo.

Speaking on behalf of the senior doctors, Dr Faith Muchemwa applauded the intervention and swift response by President Mnangagwa to their plea.

She said just three months ago when they realised that the state of affairs was deteriorating in public health institutions, they sought audience with Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo and later First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, who is Health Ambassador.

She said Amai Mnangagwa then facilitated a meeting with President Mnangagwa, from which they presented their grievances. Dr Muchemwa said after hearing their plight, the President immediately assigned deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro to India to purchase the said equipment.

“Dr Mangwiro was communicating everyday regarding the exact equipment that we had requested.

“Although the equipment is coming in phases, we have already seen much of what we asked for. We thank you your Excellency for your intervention,” said Dr Muchemwa.

Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, Minister of State for National Security in the President’s Office Owen Ncube; Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa and Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs Oliver Chidau and other Government officials witnessed the handover ceremony.