Health sector mourns Mugabe

AS the country and the world continues to mourn the passing on of former president Robert Mugabe, players in the health sector have chosen to celebrate his life by sharing some of his successes and vision.
Mugabe died on Friday at around 4am at Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore.
He was 95.
Mugabe was Zimbabwe’s first democratic leader after gaining independence from the colonial bondage of Britain in 1980 and he is credited with some of the policies which saw Zimbabwe scoring successes on many health fronts.
Zimbabwe managed to eradicate the usually known “six killer diseases” and also built hospitals and clinics around its territory under his stewardship.
Former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Gerald Gwinji said the former president had a vision of providing health services to all.
“He had a vision of providing health services for all and this vision had to be achieved by 2020.
“He also aimed at decentralising the health services so that people from the rural area can also access the services.
“Mugabe made sure that there were more trained health workers locally which saw an increase in the services provided,” he said.
He added:
“In essence his vision had been achieved partially though there were challenges here and there.
“For example, the issues of sanctions were a hindrance because if the economy does not perform well naturally social sectors suffer.”
Community Working Group on Health Executive Director Itai Rusike said Mugabe made a lot of achievements in the early years of Independence.
“After adopting the Primary Health Care Strategy at Independence in 1980, huge gains with excellent health outcome indicators in maternal and child health, family planning and immunisation were achieved in the early years of Independence.
“Great investments were also realised in the construction of new health facilities from about 500 health facilities at Independence to more than 1 600 public health facilities that we now have across the country after adopting a policy of having a health facility within ever eight kilometer radius.
“Major gains were also achieved in the training of human resources for health (nurses and doctors) that made Zimbabwe the envy of the region on highly skilled health workers hence today our doctors and nurses are sought after worldwide.
“Unfortunately most of the gains achieved in the first ten years of Independence have now been reversed after the country adopted the ruinous Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) in the late 1990s, and with the advent of HIV/AIDS, brain drain and corruption scourge,” he said.
A senior health expert who served in the Government in the 90s said the late Mugabe was the reason the country boast of professional doctors we pride ourselves with today because of his continued vision for learning.
“Cde Mugabe made sure doctors and other health professionals were sent for further training to countries like Cuba and Russia and today we have highly qualified professionals,” said the expert who preferred anonymity.

Fiona Ruzha, H-Metro Reporter