Health institutions operating in the Belgravia area of Harare have appealed to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) to spare them of load-shedding to save lives and ensure they continue in business.
The health centres said relying on generators for power was not sustainable due to the high costs incurred in buying fuel and the uncertainty of effective power supplies for their big machines. The health institutions were under a heavy load-shedding schedule the whole of last week, going for 11 hours 14 minutes on Tuesday, 12 hours 27 minutes on Wednesday and 15 hours 59 minutes on Thursday.
They had clocked six hours 25 minutes by Friday mid-morning without power, with the electricity yet to be restored at the time of writing. This has forced the health facilities to fork out thousands of dollars to power generators.
Speaking on behalf of the health institutions in the area, Health Point Hospital head Mr Peter Annesley said the institutions could end up closing, as the situation became unsustainable. Other health institutions operating in the Belgravia area include Corporate 24, Diagnostic Imaging Centre, Haemodyalisis Centre, Well Women Clinic and Target Laboratories.
“We have been on a load-shedding schedule that resulted in us going for 38 percent of the time without power,” said Mr Annesley on Friday last week. “The results of that load-shedding are putting the viability of Health Point Hospital and other healthcare institutions in the area under dire straits.
“Since 8am on Tuesday (last week), Health Point Hospital alone has consumed nearly US$2 500 in diesel to keep the hospital operations running as we have a moral obligation to ensure care and commitment to our patients.
“This money was spent in only four days. Imagine the bill we will have to foot at the end of the month if the situation continues like this. We will definitely no longer be viable.”
Mr Annesley said the fact that the majority of the health institutions in the area were 24-hour facilities meant longer hours on expensive generators.
“We are aware of the situation Zesa and other businesses are facing, but the sad reality is that essential services are not being given priority and they inevitably face collapse,” said Mr Annesley.
“Consequently, the medical community and the 24-hour medical facilities based in Belgravia are imploring Zesa to reconsider the load-shedding regime affecting the area.”
Mr Annesley said most of the machines used by the medical facilities in the area were state-of-the-art and difficult to replace in the event they were damaged by limited power.
He said in the case of generators, the machines were big and thus required large generators that consumed more fuel.
“The generators should only be for emergencies in the case of a power fault,” said Mr Annesley. “But they have become the primary source of power, which is not tenable.
“We appeal to the relevant authorities to help keep these laboratories and health institutions running, otherwise we are bound to see a further reduction in healthcare standards.”
Zesa recently embarked on a punishing load-shedding schedule throughout the country, citing falling water levels in Kariba Dam where some of the electricity is generated.