Editorial Comment: Our medical personnel have done us proud
The successful separation of conjoined (Siamese) twins in Zimbabwe is a triumph for the country’s medical sector. The surgeons have ably proved that we can provide some of the medical procedures that we have been outsourcing. It had become the norm for people to seek medical attention outside our borders, as our surgeons lacked the equipment or skills to carry out some of the procedures.
The historic operation at Harare Hospital has restored faith in our conventional medical system that has been reeling under funding constraints wrought by the West’s illegal sanctions regime.
Equally important, there are the economic considerations.
The cost of getting medical service outside the country is too prohibitive for most ordinary citizens.
The various media houses occasionally carry touching stories of disadvantaged people seeking financial assistance to access foreign medical service for some rare conditions.
Even for the few rich people, it does not make sense that citizens must keep on pumping out precious foreign currency to seek services that can be provided locally.
It is quite disturbing to hear that doctors are just referring patients outside the country for procedures that can be done locally.
This seems to point out to a breakdown in communication. There is need for the medical fraternity to step out so that the country’s capacity becomes a matter of public record.
That way, citizens will be empowered with full information and need not be traumatised by reckless doctors who insist that they must go beyond the borders at such high cost for services they can get right here at home.
Many people believe that procedures like cleft palate correction and the closing of hernias are not within the abilities of local doctors.
That is because the disadvantaged rely on the goodwill of visiting foreign doctors who donate their time and skills to do the job.
We are cognisant of the fact that there are many complicated procedures for which people still need to seek help outside the country.
There are things like neurosurgery, organ transplants and others wherein we probably do not have the equipment and skills to perform in the country.
But it is only by being aggressive in our policies of aiming to have the capacity that we can be in a different position in the foreseeable future.
Government, through the relevant ministry, needs to map a communication strategy on just what is available locally as well as a plan on gradually increasing our capacity for what we currently cannot provide for our citizens.
The high cost investment needed to equip the major hospitals with such facilities will soon be paid for through savings on air fares, accommodation and other expenses faced by those who have to travel outside the country for service, thus ultimately by the fiscus as we export money and jobs in the medical sector.