The troubled Zimbabwean health delivery system has received a major boost from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government in the form of a full year’s donation of medicine and equipment. The current dire economic situation had left the country’s population vulnerable and unable to access basic medical needs.
Speaking to 7Dnews, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, said, “The UAE donated a number of medical devices which include 12 nursery incubators, five dialysis machines, eight respiratory machines and six vital signs monitors. This is part of a bigger consignment which will continue to come from the UAE. The equipment so far received is a six months’ supply of medicines and we will be getting more to complete a full year's worth of medical supplies.”
During the official handover at National Pharmaceuticals (Natpharm) in the capital city Harare, the UAE Ambassador to South Africa, Mahash Saeed Al Hameli, said, “Our government’s commitment is not only humanitarian but also to the Zimbabwean economy, its communities, especially childcare, women and youth. We are here to handover equipment and medicines for the hospitals to the tune of US$ two million.”
“Our long-term plan is to establish a good supply of medicines and other sundries by building a pharmaceutical factory in Zimbabwe,” the ambassador added.
State-appointed Natpharm is Zimbabwe’s biggest and only agent for the procurement, storage and distribution of medical supplies but is struggling to achieve profitability due to foreign currency shortages, massive corruption and high annual inflation above 500%, according to independent economists. In June, its managing director was sentenced to 20 months in jail for criminal abuse of office, after arbitrarily increasing the handling fees for drugs from 4% to 15%, a move which would have exorbitantly increased the cost of basic drugs far beyond the reach of ordinary citizens.
Accepting the generous gesture, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa said, “Allow me on behalf of the government, the people of Zimbabwe and myself to express our heartfelt gratitude to His Highness the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi for the timely and most generous, kind donation towards the resuscitation of our health delivery system.”
“I made a request to His Highness the Crown Prince during my visit to the UAE early this year and he has responded with this kind gesture, which will go a long way towards the realisation of our vision to provide an efficient, integrated and quality healthcare system by 2030,” added Mnangagwa.
The president continued, “We have a long waiting list of theatre patients and now we will start attending to them, thanks to this donation. My government will continue to collaborate with the UAE.”
Harare Hospital, named after the country’s capital city, has been closed on several occasions due to lack of water, among other serious operational challenges. The hospital has for some time been turning away patients and, in some cases, sending patients to buy their own medicines from private pharmacies, so that they could be admitted. Simple items like bandages and betadine have not been available and many have been kept in hospital with no treatment, while others were transferred to the already overloaded sister hospital Parirenyatwa, which also faces similar challenges in the capital.
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo, told 7Dnews, “Dialysis patients have been visiting my office lamenting the serious lack of dialysis machines in the country. God answered their prayers and now we have five dialysis machines, donated by the UAE. We are also happy that they want to renovate one of our major hospitals here in Harare.”
Earlier this year in March the UAE donated food items, tents and other provisions during the Cyclone Idai disaster, which killed more than 350 and left close to a million homeless. This is the kind of collaboration Zimbabwe needs to achieve sustainable healthcare.