Maputo — The residents of the district of Zumbo, in the western Mozambican province of Tete, have warmly welcomed the new district hospital, which will reduce the district’s dependence on neighbouring Zambia for health services.
The new hospital, inaugurated on Monday by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, contains a fully equipped operating theatre, a maternity ward, a laboratory, mother and child services, and dental services.
Previously, the Zumbo health centre possessed only 13 beds, a capacity that has now risen to 46. The health centre had been able to provide maternity, paediatric and general medical services, but had no surgical capacity.
The inability to carry out even routine surgical procedures forced pregnant women who needed a caesarian delivery, for example, either to travel over 500 kilometres to Tete city, or to cross the border into Zambia. The poor state of the road to Tete meant that many women opted for the latter.
With the transformation of the health centre into a district hospital, the services provided to patients have improved in quantity and quality, according to district doctor Miguel Munana. He foresaw a decline in the need to transfer patients to other health units, and a reduction in morbidity and mortality rates – particularly the infant and maternal mortality rates.
There are five other health centres in the district, all of them equipped with maternity facilities, but Munana says this is not enough, given the scattered nature of the Zumbo population.
He told reporters there is not much information about the patients who have preferred to seek treatment in Zambia, but he hoped that the new hospital will be able to follow them up more closely.
Currently, an average of three babies are born every day in the district hospital. This number is expected to rise, since the hospital is the only health unit in the district equipped to deal with dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth.
The hospital, the Zumbo Community Radio Station and the local Multimedia Centre were all financed by HCB, the company that operates the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi, for a cost of two million euros (about 2.6 million US dollars). The inauguration was part of the celebrations of the fifth anniversary of the Mozambican state taking majority ownership of HCB.