Editorial Comment: Health sector on road to recovery

Three months ago, President Mnangagwa met with representatives of medical doctors to address challenges besetting the health sector.

During the meeting, medical doctors’ representatives highlighted problems in the health sector that were adversely affecting their operations and health service delivery in general.

Understaffing, lack of equipment and drug shortages were cited as some of the problems stalling operations in some of the country’s major public hospitals.

President Mnangagwa promised doctors at public hospitals that Government will ensure they are fully stocked with drugs and medical equipment while looking at their welfare.

True to his word, on Monday President Mnangagwa handed over a consignment of medical equipment, with the majority of it having been part of the doctor’s wish list, presented to him during the meeting.

We welcome President’s urgent response and timely intervention in the health delivery sector, which badly needs propping up following years of neglect, inadequate equipping of vital life-saving medical equipment, staffing and drug shortages.

The consignment of the medical equipment that President Mnangagwa procured will no doubt boost the morale of the health workers while restoring confidence in the health sector, which had become a pale shadow of its former self — following years of malaise and lack of adequate funding.

We hope the availability of both the equipment and essential drugs will assist the sector get back on its feet.

With affirmation from the President that more is on the way, we urge the medical fraternity to put their hands on the deck and immediately start working.

While President’s assurance to mobilise more resources more might not happen overnight, since he has to engage various stakeholders for the procurement of required essentials, we urge the medical fraternity to exercise patience and utilise equipment that was availed on Monday.

The situation in most public hospitals is dire and would require both the Government and other stakeholders to consolidate efforts, resources and goodwill to improve health service delivery across.

For a long time central public hospitals were incapacitated because of intermittent breakdowns of important medical equipment such as infant incubators, resuscitators  and in some instance ordinary scans.

The situation was so dire that some public hospitals had to refer critical cases to private health centres.

However, such temporary measures could not give critical patients the reprieve they needed because they would often be required to pay the required exorbitant prices in private health centres.

That development resulted in hundreds of patients failing to access medical services at their critical hour of need, further plunging the health sector into an abyss.

The situation in some public hospitals had become untenable.

We are optimistic that the latest Government intervention, should be a good basis of reviving the sector, whose results should begin to the show once the equipment has been distributed to major public hospitals in Zimbabwe.

We therefore urge the recipients of the machinery to ensure that the services are not privatised, but are accessible to everyone and at a nominal fee, in line with the Government’s vision to ensure that every Zimbabwean has access to health.

The latest medical consignment by the Government and several similar initiatives it has been working on, points to its desire to ensure the highest possible level of health and quality of life for all its citizens, attained through the combined efforts of individuals, communities, organisations and also the private sector.

While heath provision is the Government’s responsibility, the private sector can still play a critical role in the resuscitation of the health sector.

They are already positive narratives of private companies partnering with Government to build more hospitals, equipped with modern machinery and well trained medical staff.

We believe that the focus should not just be on hospitals, pharmacies and related infrastructure, but also on accommodation for doctors and nurses in out-laying areas to make them more habitable.