FUEL mogul Kudakwashe Tagwirei has embarked on a project to upgrade St Anne’s Hospital and jailed rapist and businessman Munyaradzi Kereke’s state-of-the-art Rock Foundation Medical Hospital in Harare to cater for all COVID-19 patients regardless of their social status, NewsDay has learnt.
By Vanessa Gonye/Moses Mugugunyeki
Sakunda Holdings projects manager Everton Mlalazi said the fuel company stood ready to equip the two private medical institutions with standard facilities for COVID-19 treatment.
He denied speculative reports by the opposition MDC that the refurbished centres would only benefit the elite.
This came after MDC vice-chairperson Job Sikhala on Wednesday threatened to lead a protest against the upgrading of the hospitals, claiming the facilities were meant to accommodate top Zanu PF officials who presided over the death of the country’s healthcare system.
“There will be no preferential treatment with regards to patients that will be admitted there. It will be open to everyone and we anticipate all the facilities to be operational immediately after getting equipment,” the Sakunda executive said.
“Sakunda officials have already toured the health facilities and have so far moved their personnel at Rock Foundation after working with local medical experts and specialists to identify what is needed. Negotiations are currently underway with management at St Annes Hospital and the company is ready to foot all the refurbishment bills.”
According to insiders, Sakunda has identified other sites and was now waiting for the greenlight to upgrade them.
The company is taking delivery of several clinical items that include respirators, protective ware, ventilators, rapid testing kits, among others, from South Africa and China starting tomorrow at a cost of US$2,7 million.
Sakunda on Wednesday wrote to Health permanent secretary Agnes Mahomva seeking clearance for the hospital upgrade project.
Part of the letter signed by Mlalazi read: “The government of Zimbabwe has implemented raft of measures to curb and control the outbreak of the disease albeit under tough economic circumstances.
“It is against this background that Sakunda Holdings (Pvt) Ltd and its associates have come up with a private initiative to complement government efforts to curb this pandemic specifically in the provision of health facilities, equipment, training and vaccines. Sakunda has identified Rock Foundation Medical Centre as a facility in the fight against COVID-19.”
The firm also requested government to facilitate the engagement with relevant bodies to expedite the process in view of the urgency required to deal with the pandemic.
“Licenses will be sought from the following bodies: MCAZ [Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe], Pharmacists Council, Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe, Medical and Dental Council of Zimbabwe and Health Professions Authority,” Mlalazi said.
Mahomva wrote to St Anne’s Hospital manager on March 25 advising the medical centre that Sakunda would take care of their renovations.
“May you also note as discussed during the tour of your hospital our request to use this facility is for up to six months only for the COVID-19 response.”
Meanwhile, Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association interim president Johannes Marisa has urged government to decentralise COVID-19 testing centres and quarantine zones in order to tame the spread of the killer virus, which has claimed over 22 000 lives worldwide.
He said the fight against COVID-19 required collective efforts, including embracing private medical practioners.
MDPPZA is an umbrella body for medical practitioners, among them nurses, doctors, dental therapists, dentists and laboratory scientists who are in private practice.
He said countries like China, where the virus originated from, had managed to slow down the spread of the virus after implementing strict containment measures coupled with rigorous testing mechanisms, adding testing should be done on all suspected cases.
“There is no cleverness in waiting for symptoms yet an asymptomatic COVID-19 patient can still transmit the virus to many people,” Marisa said.
Zimbabwe has tested less than 100 suspected Covid-19 patients, of which only three have come up positive.
“With the availability of more testing kits, testing should be decentralised to community level. Like, for example, Kuwadzana district can have its COVID-19 centre, where referrals and testing can be done.”
Marisa said while he welcomed the resuscitation of Rock Foundation Medical Hospital and St Anne’s Hospital as COVID-19 facilities by the Health ministry in partnership with the corporate world, he believed there was need to capacitate health facilities in communities, including those in outlying