First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa today officially handed over medical equipment and commissioned a refurbished ward at the Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare.

The initiative came into being as a result of the contribution to the COVID-19 Mitigation Efforts through a partnership between two Telecoms giants – NetOne and TelOne.

The collaboration saw the two companies contributing ZWL$5 million each to mobilize a combined fund of ZWL$10million to augment Government efforts in a fight against COVID-19.   

“I am delighted to be officiating at this event today, which is a highlight of the hard work that has been put to support one of the major central hospitals in our country, Sally Mugabe Central Hospital during these trying times.

“The hard work I have witnessed here today is most pleasing especially as it depicts how collaborative effort can easily help us to rebuild and capacitate health facilities countrywide. On that note, let me commend the two state-owned institutions TelOne and NetOne for coming up with this exemplary initiative.  This is certainly the way to go if indeed we want to achieve more and get our health system back on track,” the First Lady said.

She said the intervention was timely and most critical since Sally Mugabe Central Hospital is the biggest referral hospital in the country with a bed capacity of 1186 that caters and cares for many vulnerable people. It, therefore, becomes imperative that we focus on ensuring that the facility is capacitated especially as a way to create a safety net for our people, the First Lady said.  

Speaking on behalf of Vice President Constantino Chiwengwa who is the Minister of Health, Dr. John Mangwiro, his deputy in the same ministry acknowledged that the healthcare sector has been hit hard with its frontline personnel at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19.

He also pointed out that Coronavirus comes at a time when the health sector in Zimbabwe is still recovering from a myriad of significant challenges including inadequate financing, shortages of qualified staff, poor infrastructure, and aging equipment amongst a host of others leading to constrained service delivery in many public hospitals.

Dr. Mangwiro said through an accelerated response that culminated in a joint initiative by NetOne and TelOne, some of the major hospitals that were in a debilitating state have undergone a major facelift and been rehabilitated.

“In line with disaster-response preparedness at Hospital level, Sally Mugabe Hospital, formerly known as Harare Hospital, now has a fully functional ward that can accommodate 42 patients in the event that Covid-19 cases are exacerbated. In line with our vision which is to have the highest possible level of health and quality of life for all citizens, we hope to take this thrust on a national level to all Provincial, District, and Rural Hospitals and ensure full capacitation of our health facilities. In as much as we acknowledge that Covid-19, like many other natural disasters, was unforeseen and unexpected, we will use our experiences as learning points for improved Public Health Surveillance and Disaster Preparedness and Responsiveness as a key priority area.

“In that vein, we realise that there are several patients that are asymptomatic and may show limited to no symptoms at all and as such do not require hospitalisation. In this regard, it is therefore imperative that we identify easily accessible amenities that can be transformed into Community Isolation Centres. To buttress the theme of our National Health Strategy which is Equity and Quality in Health, Living No One Behind, we, therefore, call upon the Corporate World to partner our Ministry and the Government in ensuring that adequate Community Isolation Facilities are created to cater for all people countrywide. We also require support in building a robust and resilient healthcare delivery system across Zimbabwe,” Dr. Mangwiro said.

Speaking at the same occasion, Dr. Jenfan Muswere, the Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services said ICT plays a critical role as a key enabler that supports all other economic activities across all sectors.

He said COVID-19 has become a springboard that has seen the ICT Ministry as well as all key players under its purview, accelerating digital innovations that seek to promote telecommuting and remote working, in order to reduce contact risk and curb the spread of the virus.  

Dr Muswere said all ICT players contributed immensely towards the setting up of the National COVID-19 Response Hotline 2019, through the donation of various ICT equipment and toll-free lines to facilitate the immediate set up of the Ministry of Health and Child Care National Emergency Call Centre Facility.

“I handed over this equipment to the Ministry of Health and Child Care in April, and am reliably informed that this facility is operating effectively. In addition, the sector also contributed to the setting up of an additional Hotline – 2023, to enable the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting services to effectively disseminate critical information during this COVID 19 season – this facility is also operational and working smoothly,” Dr. Muswere said.

Mrs. Chipo Mutasa, the TelOne Managing Director said the partnership with NetOne led to the refurbishment of the 42-bed ward, the installation of three boreholes, and mobilisation of critical hospital equipment at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital. She said the collaboration between the two companies goes beyond the current project and pointed out that TelOne’s work in the health sector is informed by its corporate social investment policy that has seen it constructing health access points, providing hospital equipment and medicines, especially at district levels.

TelOne recently launched Impact Learning, a platform that will help with remote learning for primary, secondary and tertiary levels. This comes among a host of other product packages tailor-made to support TelOne voice and broadband users during COVID-19.

NetOne Acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Chipo Jaisson said the initiative falls within one of its critical Corporate Social Investment pillars – One Health, which is aligned with SDG 3 – which seeks to “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all” and SDG 6– which ‘’Ensures availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.’

She said NetOne is not only investing in the preservation of human kind by actively joining the fight against COVID-19, but contributing towards capacitating public health facilities for the greater good of the nation.   

“We understand that the current state of our public health care sector, impacts on their ability and level of preparedness to deal with such a pandemic, which is why we saw it fit as businesses to offer the necessary financial support to ensure that we effectively build capacity during and post-COVID-19,” Ms. Jaisson said.

The First Lady, through the Angel of Hope Foundation where she is Patron, said the Foundation also collaborated to contribute to the revamping of country’s health facilities.

She also handed over hospital equipment worth US$348,000 which was sourced from Angel of Hope partners, a United States-based NGO, MATTER.

Mrs. Mnangagwa appreciated the shipping and logistics support of US$20,400 provided by TelOne, which made it possible for the equipment to be delivered.