HARARE – Infrastructural development backlog at Harare Children’s Hospital has forced the institution to
accommodate only 250 patients against an installed capacity of 340, the hospital matron has revealed.
Lucia Jongwe, sister-in-charge of Harare Children’s Hospital, was explaining to mayoress Fran Manyenyeni that apart from space constraints at the paediatric hospital, they also have to deal with lack of equipment such a heaters for the neonatal wards.
Jongwe said despite space constraints, they cannot turn away patients as access to treatment was a constitutional right.
“The ward that has not been constructed is supposed to cater for the adolescents, some of whom come to the Opportunistic Infections (OI) Clinic,” Jongwe said. “We accommodate children from age zero to 12 years, but because we have those teenagers that come to our OI Clinic, we cannot take them to the adult wards.
“We have had to make a cubicle for the adolescents for when they get ill. We used to put them in with the younger children but had to change because of growing numbers of abuse by older children. We also need linen for the wards.
“We are in need of a serious revamp of the hospital. There is need for folding beds for our mothers so they can stay with their infants overnight.
“At present, mothers have to stay at the dormitory in the main hospital while fathers that come with their children sleep in the surgical ward day room,” Jongwe said.
The hospital, though barely coping with patients, also has to cater for children abandoned by their parents.
Four-year-old Benon is their oldest patient at the hospital, having been left there by his step-mother who had brought him in for treatment.
Jongwe highlighted that the toddler, who suffers from hydrocephalus, had also sustained burns which they thought were linked to some form of child abuse.
“Benon was only two years-old when he was left here,” Jongwe said.
“We have tried contacting his father who is a soldier but every time we are told he is out of Harare. The hospital is however, fortunate that most of the abandoned children are taken in at the Grace Mugabe Children’s Home.”
She also indicated there was need for adequate social services at the hospital with emphasis on providing a means assessment to check on those that genuinely need assistance from social welfare.
A group of paediatricians formed the Harare Children’s Hospital Trust in 2012 as the independent fundraising arm of the hospital.
Since its inception, the Trust has supported the Hospital through upgrading its buildings, purchasing vital Incubator equipment and funding critical training and research programmes.