Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare says it is opening a new unit that will cater for patients with acute respiratory illnesses and relieve pressure on the hospital’s already existing intensive care and high-dependency care units.

The unit currently has eight beds which are expected to be expanded in due course.

Speaking to The Herald, pulmonologist and head of the respiratory unit at Parirenyatwa Hospital Dr Felix Manyeruke said the ward mainly deals with respiratory diseases. He said:

We are opening up what is called a medical HDU and it has been operational for the past four months.

This is a 30-bed unit and we started with eight beds. We are expanding gradually to cater for up to 16 patients.

Mainly we deal with respiratory diseases which include pneumonia, patients with respiratory distress, asthma, silicosis, lung diseases, post TB lung diseases among others.

Parirenyatwa was set up with an ICU and an HDU which caters for both general and surgical patients but what is limited is the number of beds available.

The eight medical beds we have opened are separate from the current units which are there. This is a closed HDU unit which offers care to medical patients only.

We have also been taking in obstetric patients who need oxygen therapy. This is an extension of the services which were already there.

The Hunan Province People’s Hospital in China has provided equipment and the expertise to train local doctors to perform new medical procedures in the ward.

Last week, the Minister of Health and Childcare, Douglas Mombeshora received a batch of medical equipment and consumables valued at US$500 000 from the Chinese Government to support the development of the respiratory care unit.

Manyeruke said under the partnership with Hunan Province People’s Hospital, Parirenyatwa had also received three bronchoscopy machines and an automatic bronchoscopy cleaner.

He said a team of Chinese doctors will be coming to Zimbabwe for a simulation lab where local doctors and technicians will be trained. Added Manyeruke:

Our Chinese partners have brought up lots of models that will be used to train our staff to do intubations and other medical procedures.

We are going to set up a centre here to train doctors on how to do these procedures. We received equipment for training so that we can train our staff…

The burden of respiratory illness in the country is high and asthma is the most common. In the world Zimbabwe is number 14 in terms of asthma deaths so most of these respiratory deaths occur at home.

This centre will offer health services for acutely ill patients but we also have an outpatient clinic, a general respiratory clinic and post-Covid care, post-TB lung disease as well as silicosis which affects artisanal miners.

Over the years, China has made numerous donations to Zimbabwe in various sectors such as infrastructure development, healthcare, and education.

Several projects in Zimbabwe, including the construction of hospitals, schools, roads, and dams, have been funded by Chinese donations and investments.