Zimbabwe: Declare Central Hospitals COVID-19 Centres - Zima

10 April 2020

All central and provincial hospitals should be made Covid-19 treatment centres as they have more capacity to handle critically-ill patients than municipal institutions handling isolation infected people, the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) has proposed.

ZIMA made the call during an interaction between President Mnangagwa and professionals including lawyers, accountants, engineers, nurses and architects.

The infectious diseases hospitals are, however, designed to isolate infected people so that other sick people are not infected, which is why they were built as separate institutions.

Dr Christopher Samukange, the ZIMA welfare committee chairperson, also called for the amendment of the Public Health Act, which he said dictates that the treatment of a contagious condition shall be vested in the municipalities with their specialised centres.

City of Harare has made Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare the focal point of management for Covid-19 cases.

"The Public Health Act says they must not go to the Central Hospitals, so we need to look at that Act quickly so that we empower the Central Hospitals to deliver the service that will make a difference to the people who contract Covid-19 as an infection and require hospital care," he said.

Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals already has facilities to treat Covid-19 as all its beds have an oxygen delivery point, 13 theatres, a 10-bed High Care Unit, a 10-bed intensive care unit and a secondary set of theatres, which are all set up for ventilation.

Dr Samukange said Zima recommend that Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and United Bulawayo Hospitals in Bulawayo be designated as Covid-19 centres because they are already designed for delivering critical care.

"As much as we want all Central Hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo designated for it we need to decentralise, every provincial hospital should be regarded as Covid-19 treatment centres," he said.

"First because they are partly on the way there in terms of equipment and medical staff to look after the people and secondly, it also means people don't have to travel across the country looking for services that are available in Harare or Bulawayo."

Government has been called upon to scale up testing by identifying areas with high infections and deploying resources accordingly.

He recommended that the Government assist local pharmaceutical companies to produce drugs like chloroquine and azithromycin that some doctors think may help treat Covid-19 although no clinical studies have been completed and there is no definite evidence that the drugs help.

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