Ekusileni Hospital eyes region

EKUSILENI Medical Centre (EMC) will within five years become a leading medical research institute in southern Africa, ensuring that no Zimbabwean leaves the country to seek healthcare, its owners have said.

Report by Nqobile Bhebhe

The institution, built in honour of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, has been idle for more than a decade now, but the proprietors believe an $80 million injection from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) will kick start the project, seen by many as a white elephant.

Documents seen by Southern Eye show that EMC hopes to attract patients from as far as Botswana.

“No patient will leave Zimbabwe to seek medical treatment. EMC will lower the incidence in preventable medical conditions. It will be the leading medical research institution in sub-Saharan Africa and will become the leading medical research institute within five years,” the documents read.

“Ultimately there will be savings and reductions in capital outflows for medical treatment outside Zimbabwe, while increasing capital inflows from clients from sub-Saharan Africa.

“In 2007 alone in excess of $5 million was spent by Zimbabweans travelling to South Africa for medical treatment.”

EMC says it will target patients from Francistown in Botswana, as the town was only 192km away, while in Zimbabwe the institution says its competition will be the Catholic-run Mater Dei Hospital.

“Within the Zimbabwean context, Mater Dei in Bulawayo is the only hospital that could be regarded as competitor of some sort,” the document continues.

“Mater Dei is a 178-bed institution offering the following facilities — providing beds, nursing services, pharmacy and rudimentary radiology for independent medical practitioners, and recently started providing emergency care. Its main business is to provide bed nights.

“By contrast, EMC is a 257-bed hospital with a comprehensive service offering, leveraging PHMI’s experience gained in working with over 40 countries of all stages of healthcare development and infrastructure and management.”

The hospital’s target market in the region is estimated at over five million.

Ekusileni briefly opened its doors to the public in 2004 before it was closed after it was discovered that equipment was obsolete. Efforts to reopen the institution are underway with local promoters of the project in talks with South African medical services operators, while Medi-Clinic has been identified as a potential operator for the medical facility.

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