Zimbabwe is poised to benefit from medical tourism following international endorsement of the country’s health service processes with foreigners queuing to get Covid-19 vaccines, which they have to pay for, while local surgeons have been authorised to help separate conjoined twins from Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon.
The appeal from the two countries follows the successful operations carried out at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital early this year and another in 2014.
Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga has authorised the surgeons to assist.
This dovetails with the vision of medical tourism, whereby people visit Zimbabwe or seek Zimbabwean specialists for medical care. Government has indicated that it no longer wants to export patients by having more specialties done locally.
VP Chiwenga told professionals at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital recently that they were continuing to make the country proud by these landmark successes and promised that their good work would be rewarded.
“In another success story, the hospital initiated the hydrocephalus and spina bifida camp, and over 60 patients were screened,” he said. “Out of the 60, 36 babies with spina bifida and hydrocephalus were operated on. Well done! You continue to make this country proud.
“In addition to all the paediatric specialist services available at this hospital, it is my vision to introduce newer areas like open heart surgery, transplant procedures, oncology, cochlea inplants, paediatric orthopaedic services and newer paediatric services.”
VP Chiwenga told the health workers to give him all their requirements, both personally and for their trade, in writing, so that he sees that all the possible ones were addressed.
The Vice President told the medical professionals to take pride in practising in their country and not to be lured by foreign countries.
He was confident the medical team at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital will be equal to the task that they will earn international recognition.
Government is also committed to take equitable health services across the country, and VP Chiwenga ordered Permanent Secretary Air Commodore Dr Jasper Chimedza to ensure similar services were availed in Bulawayo.
“We are confident that the Children’s Hospital will be known in Africa and indeed the world as a centre of paediatric service excellence,” said VP Chiwenga. “In this regard, I have instructed my Permanent Secretary, Air Commodore Dr Jasper Chimedza, to establish a similar service at Mpilo Central Hospital, where a children’s hospital already exists.”
Board chair for Sally Mugabe Central Hospital Dr Edward Chagonda said the ministry was privileged to have VP Chiwenga at the helm, as he was a person who wanted to get the job done.
Specialist surgeon Dr Bothwell Mbuwayesango, who successfully led a team of health professionals to separate the conjoined twins both in 2014 and this year, hailed the expertise in Zimbabwe.
Specialists from Zimbabwe always shine during regular examinations for specialists in East, Central and Southern Africa.
Last year, three locals made it into the top four best students.
Dr Luxwell Jokonya, a consultant paediatric neuro-surgeon, said Zimbabwe had the requisite personnel for most specialties, but appealed for more resources and working space.
Mr Tapiwa Mutare, father of the conjoined twins who were successfully separated after an 18-hour complex operation on February 23 at the age of 73 days, thanked the Government for availing such quality services.
“I kept on praying. We have two other children. I am happy Zimbabwe is capable of offering such excellent services,” he said
Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndhlovu said: “We are receiving numerous inquiries about our vaccination programme. People want to come and get vaccinated in Zimbabwe.
“Quite clearly, it’s because at the moment we are leading in terms of vaccination programme and people want to come and join that so we are seeing possibilities of medical tourism as we have seen happening in Dubai.
“There have seen quite a number of people visiting just to get vaccinated. We see Victoria Falls offering the same opportunities,” said Minister Ndhlovu.
Tourists are allowed to be vaccinated in Zimbabwe, but they have to pay the full cost of the vaccination. Local residents are vaccinated for free.