By Herbert Muzanenhamo
An initiative to help halt the disastrous situation in Zimbabwe’s five major hospitals has been set up by veteran journalist and documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono.
The project dubbed Save Our Hospitals will be driven by a crème de la crème of Zimbabwe’s professional world that includes celebrated human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, international banker Pindie Nyandoro and eye surgeon Dr Solomon Guramatunhu.
Save Our Hospitals will seek to help the country’s health institutions mobilize the desperately needed hospital consumables in the five major referral hospitals.
The five hospitals that have been initially targeted for this initiative are Harare, Parirenyatwa, Mpilo, Chitungwiza and United Bulawayo Hospitals.
This comes on the back of a moving emotional plea that has now gone viral which was made by Dr Azza Mashumba who heads the paediatric department at the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.
In a meeting with the Minister of Health Obadiah Moyo convened yesterday to discuss the huge crisis engulfing public hospitals, Dr Mashumba broke down crying in front of her medical colleagues whilst narrating the desperate realities in one of Zimbabwe’s major hospitals, Parirenyatwa.
The emotional video of Dr Mashumba sobbing spurred many Zimbabweans to ask themselves what could be done in the absence of government fulfilling its obligations in the health sector.
Hopewell Chin’ono who put out a note last night suggesting ideas to help resolve the crisis quickly put together a group of luminaries that include the former mayor of Harare, Ben Manyenyeni, retired Anglican Bishop, Chad Gandiya and practicing senior doctors including London based HIV specialist Dr Charles Mazhude.
The group of volunteers will give direction, ideas and use its star appeal to help raise resources whenever and wherever they will be needed in the referral health centers.
The volunteers will work with hospital trusts that will be set up and run by senior doctors, each of the five hospitals will have a trust.
The hospital trusts will each send a representative to the group set up today where their needs will be assessed and a call out for funding made on their behalf.
Award winning journalist Hopewell Chin’ono is not new to the health sector, he has made documentaries on HIV and Mental illness in Zimbabwe that have won multiple awards.
The journalist said that he deliberately chose not to be part of the group because his job as he put it was merely to use his influence to get things done.
Chin’ono said that he was greatly thankful to the group of luminaries who agreed to come together, they will be called the Hospital Guardians he said.
He said that the initiative is not partisan and should never be used for party political purposes.
Below is a note put out by Hopewell Chin’ono:
I have something to report back to you on regarding the Save Our Hospitals initiative.
We now have a team in place to turn the Help Save our Hospitals idea into a reality God Willing.
The team will form the Core Group that will help as guardians of the Save Our Hospitals initiative.
We shall call them the Hospital Guardians.
Beatrice Mtetwa, human rights lawyer.
Pindie Nyandoro, Standard Bank Group regional Chief Executive for the Southern & Central African region.
Prof Rati Nhdlovu, nephrologist & professor of medicine at the UZ medical school.
Dr Solomon Guramatunhu, ophthalmologist (eye surgeon).
Dr Charles Mazhude, genitourinary medicine consultant, Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust, UK
Ben Manyenyeni, former mayor Harare & corporate business consultant .
Prof Dixon Chibanda, consultant psychiatrist & professor of psychiatry at the UZ medical School and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
Dr Donald Mutangadura, consultant dermatologist.
Bishop Chad Gandiya, Anglican Church.
This group of volunteers (unpaid) will be joined by one senior doctor (consultant) from every one of the referral hospitals in Zimbabwe.
The five hospitals are Harare, Chitungwiza, Parirenyatwa, Mpilo and United Bulawayo Hospitals.
The initiative will seek to assist these hospitals by mobilizing resources both at home and abroad.
It will step in where government would have failed to supply the much needed medical consumables and or equipment, this will be done with the consent of the Ministry of Health.
NO MONEY will exchange hands at any given time because what the initiative seeks to do is supply the material that the hospitals need and not cash.
Individual citizens and corporates will pay for the material they want to donate and only deliver the goods to the hospitals.
The Core Group will also be the custodian of the process from start to finish between the hospitals and the citizenry and corporates to ensure accountability, trust and long term planning.
The five hospitals will set up trusts that will be run by senior doctors who are Heads of Departments in those hospitals.
These trusts through a representative will then hand over a report detailing their needs to the Core Group that will then make the call out for assistance.
The number of departments will determine the number of trustees per hospital.
The chairperson of each trust will have a seat on the Core Group so each hospital will know what will be happening at the other hospitals.
The process will be transparent to both the medical practitioners and the donors.
The chairperson of the Core Group will be decided when they meet for their inaugural meeting on Monday.
The Core Group will be there to help the hospital trusts with ideas and with mobilizing the required resources and providing expert advice at NO cost at all to the hospital trusts.
The Core Group will also seek a meeting with the Minister of Health to present their views and make him understand the purpose of this initiative because the Minister is the legal custodian of public hospitals.
He is also the one who will assist in getting government to issue customs rebate certificates for any equipment bought outside the country by citizens and corporates.
I will communicate with you on what the group would have agreed on after their inaugural meeting.
In the meantime, Zimbabweans and Friends of Zimbabwe in the diaspora should start organizing themselves by creating structures that will drive this process forward.
This initiative belongs to you, our country and all those who live in it, it is non partisan or sectarian.
As I have said above and also in the morning, this is a non-partisan initiative meant to harness the desire expressed by citizens and corporates to help our hospitals and our doctors.
Please feel free to suggest anything that you think can be of help in driving this process not only to fruition, but to becoming a long term project that can withstand the test of time.
Any good institution should be able to outlive those that would have started it, there will be many health care related initiatives that will be explored by this group.
This will include providing gap years for local nurses and doctors and also facilitating international nurses and doctors to come and volunteer here for free and sourcing health care scholarships.
I have seen this done in Ethiopia, there are many Zimbabweans working in healthcare who have loads of ideas, this would be the platform to put them through.
Ultimately it is the country that will gain from this initiative as it will invariably spread out to other areas of health care where assistance would be needed.
Please feel free to suggest anything that you think will add value.
My email address is email@example.com
I will release the contact details of the core group and the hospital trustees once they meet and agree on methods of communication.
Please share this post in your networks on social media so that as many of our people are aware of this initiative.