Parliament lobbies  Ekusileni re-opening


PARLIAMENT is lobbying for the urgent reopening of Ekusileni Hospital for Covid-19 eventualities saying the city’s isolation institution, Thorngroove Infectious Diseases Hospital, will not cope.

Situated in Woodlands suburb, Ekusileni Hospital is the brainchild of the late vice president Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo and has been lying idle since the turn of the millennium. 

Parliamentarians made the proposal after touring Mpilo Central Hospital, United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) and Thorngroove Infectious Diseases Hospitals.

The Ruth Labode-chaired parliamentary portfolio committee on Health and Child Care toured the three hospitals on Thursday to assess their preparedness in the event of the outbreak of novel coronavirus in the country.

Following the tour of the three hospitals, the committee concluded that the city is far from prepared, and proposed that Ekusileni Hospital be immediately open as Thorngroove will not cope since it has a capacity of 30 beds.

Addressing the media following the tour of the hospitals, Labode blasted the government for concentrating its efforts on Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in the capital while neglecting the second largest isolation centre in the country.

“Everything we saw at Wilkins Hospital is because the Health minister, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) took the initiative.

“Everybody assumed since Covid-19 was in China, the first entry point was going to be Harare through the Harare International Airport. However, Covid-19 has dodged and it has gone to South Africa.

“I strongly feel we should open Ekusileni and prepare for eventuality. Ekusileni needs to be opened like yesterday. We renovate this place (Thorngroove) because it has nursing staff.

“The nurses will look after critical patients needing nursing care. The mild cases must be taken to Ekusileni Hospital for isolation,” Labode said.

Labode added that her committee will follow up on the US$25 million proposed by the Global Fund towards the renovation of Thorngroove and purchasing beds and blankets for Ekusileni Hospital.

During his recent visit to the city, Global Fund director Peter Sandy proposed that US$25 million of the total US$500 million granted to Zimbabwe be channelled towards helping the country fight novel coronavirus.

“We want some of that money to be brought to Bulawayo to renovate this place and bring it up to standard. Everything needed must be done now before we fall into trouble.”

At Thorngroove, there are a handful of beds for patients, equipment, protective gear, with the hospital relying on Ebola equipment and the one it used when treating drug-resistant tuberculosis. This is despite visit by Health minister Obadiah Moyo who toured the facility early February and pledged to swiftly avail all the necessary equipment to the institution.

At Mpilo and UBH, clinical directors also appealed for more resources for Covid-19 eventualities and the chief executive officers tabled lists of equipment required to prepare the hospitals for the outbreak.

This means the city will rely on Harare for test kits and laboratories when the disease reach the city.

Other committee members called for the decentralisation of decision making processed from head office to allow the city to adequately prepare.


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