More specialist doctors for Mpilo Mpilo Hospital

Bulawayo Bureau

THE Government has re-ignited hope for parents in the southern region with children suffering from heart-related ailments following the recruitment of two specialist doctors at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo. 

Mpilo Central Hospital, which last offered paediatric specialist healthcare services 30 years ago, now has a paediatric cardiologist and a paediatric surgeon operating from the hospital.

The latest development will ease the burden on parents with children needing the specialist service as they had to travel to either Harare or out of the country to access the service.

Government under the Second Republic is making a deliberate effort to increase the number of specialist doctors in public hospitals. At Mpilo Central Hospital, the number of specialist doctors increased from 54 percent in 2021 to 74 percent.

About 90 percent of citizens access health care in public institutions while 10 percent get services in private providers.

Mpilo Central Hospital chief executive officer Dr Narcacius Dzvanga said the recruitment of the two specialist doctors is a milestone for the referral hospital which caters for patients from the southern region, which covers Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands and Masvingo.

“This is a milestone achievement for Mpilo Central Hospital. If my memory serves me right, this is the first time for us to have a paediatric surgeon and a paediatric cardiologist and they are both female and young,” he said.

“I can’t remember the last we had these specialists offering such services here. I have lived in Bulawayo for more than 30 years and this is the first time to have a paediatric cardiologist and a paediatric surgeon.”

Dr Dzvanga said the hospital will no longer refer patients to Harare for medical services that can be offered at the local medical centre.

“This will save the taxpayers a lot of money as it cuts medical costs for the patients. There are a lot of benefits in terms of cost-cutting. I know in Harare they also have a paediatric cardiologist and paediatric surgeon, but for Bulawayo and the southern region this is really a trail-blazing achievement,” he said.

The Second Republic has been working around the clock implementing comprehensive reforms aimed at improving the quality of health care services in both urban and rural areas.

This involves re-equipping and upgrading existing hospitals and clinics, building new ones as well as providing drugs and other consumables. 

Government has resolved to start training specialist doctors in local universities to curb the 95 percent skills deficit in the medical fraternity. 

Most specialists are populated in Harare and Bulawayo provinces and in the private sector which translates to a few or no specialists in public health institutions. 

Government has adopted a new policy, Education 5.0 which seeks to address the medical skills deficit in the country.

In an interview, paediatric surgeon Dr Sithandweyinkosi Mushunje (37) said she has been providing specialist care since September last year.

 “I happen to be the only paediatric surgeon in the southern region of Zimbabwe, but we do have other paediatric surgeons at Harare Central Hospital. The bulk of our work is actually neonatal surgery where babies are born with congenital anomalies, without an anus, and babies born with discontinued intestines and cannot feed because of that,” she said.

“We also manage babies who are born with difficulties in passing stools, some that need an operation and some that do not need an operation.”

Dr Mushunje said while no studies have been done on such widespread medical conditions, they have lately become prevalent.

 “We are actually a very busy unit, we operate twice a week and that is not even enough. So, we have patients that are waiting for an operation, we need a daily running theatre, but this is not possible because I’m alone at the moment,” she said.

Dr Davidzo Murigo-Shumba, a specialist paediatrician cardiologist, said it is pleasing for her to provide such critical services to society.

She has been providing specialist services at the hospital since 2021.

“It has been partially rewarding and challenging at the same time. In paediatric cardiology, it is partially rewarding because we are bringing a service that is not easily available to patients,” she said.

“You’ll find that you are making a difference and you are diagnosing conditions that were in the past being diagnosed late or not being diagnosed at all due to a limited number of specialist doctors. That is kind of rewarding to provide the diagnosis and provide a management plan.”

Dr Murigo-Shumba said at the moment the challenge revolves around a lack of the specialists’ equipment to enable the management of patients.

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