By Rex Mphisa in beitbridge
THE government is considering upgrading the status of Beitbridge District Hospital to a superior institution, Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo said on Friday.
Such an upgrade is envisaged to open up vacancies for a better health administration, increase in staff, facilities and enhancement of roles of the institution, which would also become a referral centre, Moyo said.
He was referring to queries from Southern Eye on Sunday on why the government did not consider upgrading the 160-bed institution, which is 200km from the nearest referral centre in Gwanda.
On Friday, Moyo was in Beitbridge where he led a team from his ministry to assess the Beitbridge border post’s preparedness to screen travellers for the Covid19 disease caused by the coronavirus.
Immigration officer in charge of Beitbridge port Nqobile Ncube told Moyo that at least six million people pass through Beitbridge annually while an average of 13 000 do so on a normal day.
Ncube said during the previous festive season at least 34 000 people passed through the border and thousands more might have used illicit crossing points.
Ncube also said half the number of people that pass through Zimbabwe’s 25 borders use the Beitbridge border post, the busiest port in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Moyo said the volume of traffic made it necessary for the main hospital in Beitbridge to be upgraded.
“Statistics that have been given here make it very relevant that government considers that upgrade and I promise that my team will work on this,” he said.
“We will look at the infrastructure because I believe that is positive thinking.
“It means this is a key centre in the region and we have to increase its capacity and improve all services it provides.”
At the moment Beitbridge District Hospital operates with a staff complement of just about 85 of which five are doctors.
Beitbridge residents have over the years complained that the local hospital is overstretched considering the transit population it handles and want more experts and resources deployed to the border town.
The hospital handles patients from numerous accidents occurring on the two highways leading into the country from Beitbridge, which is the only direct official surface link between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Patients with serious complications are referred to Bulawayo and Gwanda.
Meanwhile, Moyo praised government departments in Beitbridge for their response to the Covid19 disease outbreak and urged them to continue working together to shut out the virus whose first African case has been reported in Egypt.