11 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Good Times Roll for Health Sector - President Calls for Unfreezing of Posts - Salutes Historic Operation

Photo: WHO/Paul Garwood
A health worker taking care of a patient.

President Mugabe yesterday paid tribute to a team of over 50 medical professionals who successfully performed a delicate operation to separate Siamese twins last Tuesday at Harare Children's Hospital, saying they did the country proud and deserved to be honoured.

Speaking after visiting the Murehwa twin boys - Kupakwashe and Tapiwanashe Chitiyo at the hospital - President Mugabe also said the incumbent Government was wholly Zanu-PF and nothing precluded it from implementing pro-people policies.

"I must say I am overwhelmed, so overwhelmed that I cannot express the sensitivity of it all," he said.

The President said he could not believe the news when he heard that a team of entirely local doctors had successfully separated conjoined twins here in Zimbabwe despite the sanctions-induced challenges the health system was facing.

"I said what! We? Zimbabweans? We Zimbabweans struggling under the burden of sanctions, despised in circles of Europe, America - how could we ever have done that? Immense difficulties, vast, vast areas of challenges - where did these doctors really get their learning from?

"Did they really manage to do it? I didn't believe it, but there it was, the truth of it and I said I must go see this mystery which has happened and see the people who have done it. So I came, I have seen and I am overwhelmed. I say to you congratulations.

Congratulations the entire team," President Mugabe said.

He also chronicled some of the challenges the health sector went through ranging from inability to replenish stocks of medical supplies to a decaying system as a result of sanctions yet the country kept going.

President Mugabe said in some areas of the world, Zimbabwe was a tarnished and despised country and the doctors had done the country proud.

"You have done not just yourselves proud, but also the nation proud. You have raised our name higher, higher from the level where it was," he said.

President Mugabe lamented the freezing of all Government posts, a situation that has affected thousands of nurses who are currently stranded.

All posts were frozen during the inclusive Government's five year stint by the then Finance Minister Mr Tendai Biti of the MDC-T.

Said President Mugabe; "Why did we train them? I was saying why did we train the people at all. Nekuti hatina mari? Izvo ndozvandakarambaka. We were talking about it the other day kuti no, we should not freeze any posts in health. Look at the country as a whole, the need that we have across the country for health, proper health facilities for healthcare to get to each and every village -- ndopototi ah no hatina mari. Ah ah hatingati hatina mari, nekuti mari iripo pasi pevhu apa. Ndipo patinoda kuifushunura ipapo," he said.

President Mugabe who was accompanied by First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, said there were other things that the Government could not do for its people because of the Inclusive Government.

"Zviripo zvatakanga tisingagone kuita, takanga takasungwa mbira dzakondo painclusive Government. Manje inclusive Government hatisisinaka, tave nehurumunde yeZanu-PF ine policies dzeZanu-PF dzakanangana nezvido zvevanhu, nekunatsa vanhu vedu -- kusimudzira vanhu vedu so health, education, social services hadzingadzi dzashaya vashandi ivo vashandi vachidzidziswa. We train them and yet we want to freeze them, hazvifambirane izvozvo," the President said.

He said the success of the conjoined twins operation necessitated the greater need to review the job freeze policy.

"There will be greater now, greater desire for more to be done in the area of health. If our doctors can do this aah, let us ensure that we do more let's ensure that we give them greater capacity, we create greater capacity and supply more equipment, but of course also remunerate them well," he said.

President Mugabe said the national budget should take into account the need to equip health institutions with necessary machinery to enable professionals to do their work.

Speaking at the same occasion, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, said Government was looking forward to transforming Harare Children's Hospital into a regional referral centre.

He said the recent operation of Siamese twins bore testimony to the fact that the country's health delivery system was returning to its former state of the 80s.

"Our health delivery system is returning to it's 1980s state where Zimbabwe was a beacon. Our professionals are helping us to return to this shining beacon," said Dr Parirenyatwa.

He said Government was committed to ensuring that the five main pillars of health namely; human resources, infrastructure, transport and communication, finance and disease burden were adequately addressed.

The First Family donated baby products to the Chitiyo boys.These included baby soap, washing soap, baby cream, baby oil, disposable nappies, bathing towels, towelling nappies, blankets, baby formula and other clothing.

Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs Miriam Chikukwa, deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Paul Chimedza, deputy chief secretary Justine Mupamhanga, acting secretary for Health and Child Care Dr Christopher Tapfumaneyi, Harare Central Hospital board chairman Dr Douglas Gwatidzo and Health Services Board chairperson Dr Lovemore Mbengeranwa were part of the dignitaries who attended the event.

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