THE country’s once vibrant health sector has for many years now been teetering on the brink of collapse largely due to under-funding and, sometimes, government’s misplaced priorities.
Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa’s admission on Wednesday that Harare Central Hospital needs urgent revamp is a welcome sentiment, but our prayer is that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government will, for once, prioritise not only this hospital, but the entire health sector.
The situation at Harare Central Hospital is merely a microcosm of the national picture, as nearly all public health institutions, in particular major referral hospitals — which must efficiently and competently serve the majority of the citizens — have been groaning under the huge burden of the country’s sick economy.
Instead of fixing the health sector, former President Robert Mugabe and his family despised local institutions so much they decided to set a new home in the Far East to access quality health yet it was his Zanu PF regime that was supposed to ensure quality health facilities in the country.
It is hoped that this old-new Zanu PF regime will not do the same given Parirenyatwa has remained, as they say a leopard can’t change its spots. But we say the minister must change if he is to remain relevant in this new dispensation going forward.
We must, however, go beyond lamenting the fact that some of our problems could be after-effects of the colonial era. Zimbabwe has been independent for nearly four decades now and our focus must be on solutions.
Health is a fundamental human right and our acknowledgment of such as a country should be demonstrated through our willingness to bankroll it rather than mere pay lip service, as has been the case for many years.
Society is dynamic and the country’s population continues to grow, making it necessary to relook such critical institutions and developing them to meet current demands.
Parirenyatwa’s admission may have been long in coming, but we do hope action will be taken — and the right action, too.
Indeed, cosmetic changes like mere repairs may not be enough. The long-term solution of constructing a new Harare Central Hospital altogether must be acted upon as a matter of urgency.
Many of our hospitals carry a gloomy and forbidding outlook that can contribute to the worsening of patients’ sicknesses rather than aiding in their healing process. Hospitals need to be revamped to have a friendlier and welcoming look, both the physical structures and personnel.
This is now the time to stem the rot that has characterised our public health institutions for many years. We also urge Parirenyatwa, the Health Services Board, Nurses’ Association of Zimbabwe and many other health organisations to ensure that the work ethic changes to save millions of lives.