STATE-RUN telecommunications companies NetOne and TelOne yesterday unveiled a refurbished wing at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo as part of their corporate social responsibility project to capacitate public health facilities.
In April, the two entities unveiled a $10 million COVID-19 facility for public health institutions which face a myriad of challenges such as lack of drugs, medicines and equipment owing to several years of underfunding.
Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services minister Jenfan Muswere implored other corporates to assist the government by mobilising resources towards the mitigation and containment of the COVID-19 pandemic when he unveiled the refurbished Mpilo wing.
"A fortnight ago, we were at Sally Mugabe Hospital witnessing the fantastic work by NetOne and TelOne and today I am excited to be unveiling a newly refurbished 35-bed ward B5 here at Mpilo Hospital. It is, indeed, gratifying to see the sterling efforts of these two entities in the ICT sector as well as the impactful contribution they continue to make in improving our health sector during such a challenging period for Zimbabwe and the world as a whole," Muswere said yesterday.
"I stand here today to unveil a COVID-19 response package by two telecoms companies under the ministry's purview, namely NetOne and TelOne.
"Both entities resolved to collaborate as State-owned entities in the telecoms sector on a 50/50 joint COVID-19 mitigation corporate social investment initiative and put together a combined total of $10 000 000 towards both the immediate needs as well as medium-to-long-term projects that seek to capacitate our public health facilities."
Muswere also applauded telecommunications companies for availing various ICT equipment needed for the dissemination of COVID-19 information to prevent the spread of the global pandemic.
"I am happy to advise that as a sector, all players contributed immensely towards the setting up of the national COVID-19 response hotline 2019 through the donation of various ICT equipment and toll-free lines to facilitate the setting up of the Ministry of Health and Child Care national emergency call centre facility," Muswere said.
"In addition, the sector also contributed to the setting up of the 2023 hotline to enable the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services to effectively disseminate critical information during this COVID-19 season, this facility is also operational and working smoothly."
Speaking at the same event, Health deputy minister John Mangwiro said government had not yet mobilised money to repair cancer treatment machines at Mpilo Hospital.
"This one broke down around August, now they were waiting for engineers from Switzerland, but we managed to get such engineers in South Africa. They have assessed and we have been given the amount required and I know we can afford it. I am sure maybe by the end of September, the machine should be up and about because the money required is there," he said.
"The machines were always breaking down because there was no service contract which had been done, but things have been sorted out now. There will be people who will be servicing the machines here. The servicemen from South Africa have trained our own local people so that we continue to service them. With time, we need to get new ones because these ones were bought in 2012, so we are going to get new ones because the population is also getting big."
Zimbabwe has only one functional radiotherapy machine which is at Mpilo Central Hospital, a development that has left the institution struggling to cope with demand for the services of this lifesaving machine.
Mpilo used to have an average of 150 cancer patients on its waiting list at any given time, but following the breakdown of the Harare machines, the figure has ballooned.