Health facilities upgrade accelerated Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa

Mukudzei Chingwere

Herald Reporter

Upgrading health and sanitation in Zimbabwe is being accelerated with the latest three developments being an agreement to install solar energy systems at 640 health facilities, create public-private partnerships so more high-end medical procedures can be done in Zimbabwe, and get a sharp improvement in basic public health by converting pit latrines to flush toilets.

Cabinet agreed yesterday to install the solar systems across Zimbabwe to ensure guaranteed power supplies and counter the effects of any power outages that have been disrupting service delivery.

At the other end of the upgrade of medical systems, Zimbabwe will continue to offer more services, with the Government now wanting to see open heart surgery and radiotherapy services as part of efforts under the newly streamlined Ministry of Health and Child Care, to match best international practices.

And a new technology, already successful in a pilot phase, will allow flush toilets using little water in peri-urban and rural areas off the main sewers, and so cut back drastically on the risks of outbreaks of water-borne diseases.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday announced the latest developments that are part of the continuous effort to upgrade health services and public health.

“In a development to address the power challenges experienced by health facilities, Cabinet adopted a proposal for the installation of solar back-up energy kits at 640 health facilities,” said Minister Mutsvangwa after the Cabinet meeting.

Public-private partnerships will be used to boost national health services.

“In order to improve capacity of the health service delivery in Zimbabwe, Cabinet advises that the Ministry of Health and Child Care intends to open up the open heart surgery and radiotherapy services. This would be enhanced through partnerships with the private sector and local financing organisations.

“It is envisaged that the public-private partnerships would enable the expansion of access to higher quality health care by leveraging on the capital, infrastructure, equipment and expertise from both the private sector and the public sector,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

Such partnerships had culminated in the restoration of the Bulawayo Orthopaedic Hospital, to make it a charitable paediatric hospital, through partnership with non-governmental organisations. The upgraded facility is set to be officially opened this month.

The specialties of open heart surgeries and radiotherapy announced by Minister Mutsvangwa will be using the growing local expertise that has been gaining international endorsements. Recently local surgeons were authorised to help separate conjoined twins from Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon by Health Minister Vice President Chiwenga after appeals for assistance.

This followed successful operations carried out at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital early this year following the first success in 2014.

Minister Mutsvangwa also announced that Cabinet considered and approved the implementation of Eaziflush sanitation technology, a system that upgrades pit latrines to flush toilets but uses far less water that sewer-based systems. This makes the technology ideal for peri-urban and rural communities where pit latrines now dominate.

“Government wishes to get rid of open pit latrines and implement alternative innovations suitable for transforming rural communities with respect to the provision of clean water and improved sanitation.

“Government is taking a deliberate position to provide modern, sustainable, and affordable infrastructure in both urban and rural communities,” she said.

Minister Mutsvangwa said the innovation had been developed and may be funded through school development associations, the Constituency Development Fund, devolution funds and donor participation.

“The Eaziflush sanitation technology is an innovation that seeks to ameliorate the challenges occasioned by the need to improve hygiene practices on open defecation in these peri-urban and rural communities. The technology uses two litres of water per flush, compared to the seven to nine litres used by the conventional system and will convert the existing pit latrine infrastructure. This will reduce construction costs for new ablution facilities by up to 80 percent,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

She said Cabinet acknowledged that the adoption and implementation of the Eaziflush technology would go a long way in reducing the transmission of water-borne diseases such as typhoid, diarrhoea, dysentery and cholera, which result from lack of adequate sanitation facilities.

“The project will be implemented in phases beginning with rural schools and clinics. It will then be cascaded to homesteads once the concept has been demonstrated and popularised. Presently, the technology is already installed and being piloted at Glenwood Primary School in Epworth and has proved to be effective, functional and user-friendly in terms of applicability and cost,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

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