ONGOING renovations at Ekusileni Medical Centre in Bulawayo are the most practical signs that the important facility would finally reopen.
Ekusileni was closed down in 2004 shortly after opening its doors following discoveries that the Zimbabwe Health Care Trust, which would operate the hospital, had imported obsolete equipment from the United States.
The late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo campaigned for the construction of the specialist hospital after experiencing the indignity afflicting many Zimbabweans of having to travel to far-away countries to seek treatment.
Nkomo had travelled as far as Egypt to seek medical attention. The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) funded the construction of the hospital, making the government a stakeholder in the project.
Over the years, politicians have made several promises about the reopening of Ekusileni such that people were beginning to treat the stories with contempt.
NSSA has promised that the hospital would be opened before the end of the year after one of South Africa’s biggest healthcare providers, Podiso, agreed to come on board. The authority says it expects renovations to be completed by the end of the week.
NSSA, as we reported elsewhere, said the renovations included work on the roof and floors.
Bulawayo has two large health centres, namely Mpilo Central Hospital and the United Bulawayo Hospitals that service the entire Matabeleland, Masvingo and Midlands provinces.
However, there are no specialist hospitals and the situation is a peculiar problem countrywide.
Of late Zimbabweans have been travelling to as far as India seeking treatment for complicated ailments.
This makes the reopening of Ekusileni an absolute necessity. The gesture would be a welcome development for Bulawayo, which is crying out for investment. Instead of Zimbabweans travelling to far away countries, people from neighbouring countries would be visiting to Bulawayo to seek treatment at Ekusileni.
NSSA needs to be meticulous in its supervision of the project to ensure that mistakes of the past are not repeated.