Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s visit to the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) last Friday rekindled memories of how his life was saved at the institution after he ruptured his appendix 37 years ago.
He was rushed to the hospital writhing in pain after being diagnosed of appendicitis, a condition in which the appendix becomes inflamed and filled with pus, causing pain.
It is usually treated with surgery and antibiotics and if untreated, the appendix can rupture and cause an abscess or systemic infection.
The rupture spreads infection throughout the abdomen and the condition, which can be fatal, requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.
Speaking during his familiarisation tour of UBH, VP Chiwenga briefly narrated how doctors saved his life.
“I am fond of this hospital because I got saved here many years ago. I am grateful UBH is now developing and this is where my life was first saved way back in 1983 and if you go to your records you will find that you cured somebody who had ruptured his appendix,” he said.
“I think I was the second survivor for this condition.”
A nostalgic smile played across his lips as he briefly narrated the memories of the loving care and dedication of a team of nurses and doctors who ensured he did not become a death statistic.
He recalled how he was rushed to theatre and treated of the life threatening condition, adding he wanted to ensure all hospitals in the country worked in the same way UBH operated when he was saved.
VP Chiwenga condemned authorities at UBH for maintaining memorabilia plaques with colonial names, saying they should be removed and replaced with names of pioneer black doctors and nurses at the institution.
“I have seen some names which I think need to be removed and replaced with names of our heroes and heroines. We had our own heroines such as Queen Lozikeyi Dlodlo who was hanged from a tree at Masotsha Ndlovu Avenue,” she said.
“We have national heroes here such General Mtshana Khumalo. We need to preserve and regenerate our own history and those names should reflect the history of this region so that we educate the younger generation. Why not honour our first black doctors and nurses?”
VP Chiwenga pledged to address the challenges at the country’s hospitals including UBH where the oxygen tank is dysfunctional
“I also toured the Covid-19 unit at UBH where I noticed that you are ready to receive and treat Covid-19 cases. I have listened to the challenges and successes which you have achieved at UBH and my ministry shall endeavour to address all the areas in all health institutions,” he said.
“The Government’s vision is to have a national health care system that ensures all citizens have equitable access to affordable health care services of quality and that also reflect international best practice.”
VP Chiwenga said Government was committed to addressing the challenges faced by health workers.
“First and foremost, we are concerned about the conditions of service for our health workers. The salaries are not a solution to the conditions of service. We will address the issue of accommodation and transport.
We want to address the issue of security in our hospitals as quickly as possible,” he said.
The Vice-President said Government is working on the revival of 13 local pharmaceuticals firms so that Zimbabwe can be able to export locally-made pharmaceutical products and be able to preserve its meagre foreign currency reserves.
“We are going to be opening all 13 pharmaceutical companies that were closed down. We are going to revamp all those facilities which had gone to waste. We are now going to revamp that area of equipment and drug manufacturing here in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“When we buy from outside Zimbabwe what we are actually doing is that the meagre foreign currency, which we are earning, is lost.”
VP Chiwenga said Government hospitals will now require authority from the ministry to procure consumables from outside the country.
“That will be a thing of the past and it must never be repeated. We don’t want a situation where some equipment would have been purchased from another country and then upon arrival, we discover that it does suit our environment yet money would have been wasted. That has to stop,” he said.
VP Chiwenga urged medical practitioners to desist from shunning the country.
“We should not shun our own country because if we do so no one will develop it. I have seen our own specialists in foreign hospitals whenever they see wrong things being done at those institutions, they are not allowed to say anything and they are told ‘shut up and you did not come here to teach us; you are here for money,’” he said.
“Whatever problems we are facing as a country let us address them together head-on until we get it right instead of running away to other countries, let’s build our country.”
VP Chiwenga said his ministry is also working on setting up an effective ambulance services department which will see the procurement of both land and air ambulances needed to airlift patients to hospitals.