HEALTH and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo recently said he would meet with prospective investors who wish to operationalise the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s project, Ekusileni Medical Centre, which has been lying derelict since 2004.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
The medical centre was shut down shortly after opening its doors to the public, when it emerged that equipment worth millions of dollars acquired by the Zimbabwean Health Care Trust (ZHCT) after renting it from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) was obsolete. The State-run pension fund has contributed large sums of money for the construction of the upmarket 369-bed hospital facility.
But Moyo, who was addressing delegates attending the WASHen 2018 conference in Bulawayo, said it was now time to breathe life into the institution.
“We want to see the creation of super specialist hospitals like the Ekusileni. That’s one of the projects which I’m actually working on. It has not been functional for the past 15 years,” he said.
“So, I’m trying to make sure that Ekusileni gets opened and people of Bulawayo get a super specialist service, and you will find that most of the people, once Ekusileni is opened and providing that super specialist service, would not be going out of Zimbabwe.”
Moyo said the institution should be used as a medical tourism centre and he was set to meet potential investors next month.
“They will be coming to Bulawayo; so medical tourism for you here. So, we want to improve and make sure this super specialist centre would be opened and we will actually have meetings with some prospective investors next month, and once we finalise, they are willing and ready to start maybe January or February 2019. So, it’s something which is imminent,” he said.
Several efforts have been made to revive the hospital, but to no avail. In 2015, a South African firm, Phodiso, was engaged to equip the hospital and the deal was expected to have been implemented by April of the same year, but the efforts came to naught. The health facility was initiated as a joint venture between ZHCT and Netcare, a South African healthcare group that provides private healthcare in both South Africa and the United Kingdom.
A super structure development fund was set up, which saw NSSA, ZHCT and the Mining Industry Pension Fund (MIPF) becoming partners as developers. MIPF, however, later pulled out of the project, leaving NSSA to develop it on its own and become the sole owner of the property as ZHCT failed to contribute towards its construction. In 2014, the government revealed that it had engaged Phodiso Holdings Limited, a South African healthcare firm, to operationalise the facility, but the deal fell through.
Last month, the government revealed that it had engaged Indian investors, Sharda Group of Institutions, to run the centre. The officials visited the facility in July and expressed satisfaction with its infrastructure.
It is, however, not clear whether Moyo would be meeting with the same investors.