HARARE, March 6 — President Robert Mugabe has commissioned an assortment of state of the art medical equipment purchased and funded through a 100-million-US dollar Chinese loan at the Harare
Central Hospital which is expected to improve service delivery at public health institutions.

The equipment, some of which is yet to arrive in the country and includes hospital beds, ambulances, mobile clinics and various types of machinery used to test and monitor the various conditions of patients, will also be distributed to other public medical institutions.

China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) is delivering and installing the equipment.

President Mugabe acknowledged that the state of public health institutions had deteriorated over the years, partly because of sanctions which Western countries imposed, but said the worst was over as the government was working to improve conditions as well as service delivery at the health centres.

“The equipment will allow us to be more efficient in our work to take care of patients,” he said, while lauding China for its continued support of Zimbabwe since the days of the liberation struggle.

He said such investments in the health sector would, over time, result in major improvements in service delivery and would also stop locals from crossing the borders to seeking treatment.

While the government had after independence made strides to improve the state of public health institutions, President Mugabe said the efforts were hit hard by sanctions, which also resulted in some medical personnel leaving for the same countries such as Britain and the United States which imposed the embargo on Zimbabwe.

Despite the sanctions, the health delivery system in the country remained better than in average African countries, he said. “All the same, we are better off than the average African country but now that we are at that level, our commitment must be never again to come down and find ourselves below the level we have now established for ourselves,” President Mugabe said.

“There must be that awareness that we must not allow whatever else happens, the system to come down again, no. It needs to be going up.”

President Mugabe also acknowledged that due to the difficult economic environment, poisoned by sanctions, the government was not yet in a position to adequately remunerate its employees who include doctors,
but lauded them for their efforts and continued sacrifice.

“We know that people deserve better treatment. The doctors, teachers, civil service and even the ordinary man, he has quite a raw deal at the moment,” he said.

Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Lin Lin said the health project was a testament of strong China-Zimbabwe relations. “This project should reflect the China Zimbabwe partnership and China’s commitment to its brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe. China and Zimbabwe are all weather friends and our co-operation is in every sector,” he said.

Lin said the Chinese government has also constructed and equipped a 129-bed hospital in Mahusekwa and had over the years sent 13 medical teams to support Zimbabwe’s health sector. Continued co-operation between the two countries was a result of strong political ties.

Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said the new equipment “sets us on the path to provide an acceptable service for our people.”

Built in 1953 and commissioned in 1956, Harare Central Hospital is one of the country’s oldest medical institutions.