Government has pledged $287 million towards the reconstruction of three doctors’ quarters that were burnt down at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo, leaving healthcare workers with no accommodation and property.
This was the third fire incident at the public health institution in three years.
In 2018, another Mpilo doctors’ residence was gutted by fire and property worth US$300 000 was lost.
Another incident was recorded in June 2019 when a doctor slept, leaving his heater on, which resulted in a fire that destroyed all household property.
All three buildings were said to have gone for too long without consistent maintenance which could have caused the fire incidents.
In the latest incident, last Wednesday, over 30 doctors at the hospital had to escape through a window after fire gutted their double-storey building.
The fire destroyed their personal belongings, property, clothes, food and documents that include academic certificates.
They only managed to escape with what they were wearing and have been unable to conduct their duties as they do not have clothes.
Among those who were thrown out through windows from the blazing fire on Wednesday night are children who had to seek alternative accommodation for the night while members of Fire and Ambulance Services battled to put out the fire for hours.
Only a handful managed to save some of their property which was thrown out through windows before the roof caved in, destroying everything.
Property worth over US$500 000 was destroyed.
The 1 000-bed public hospital services Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Matabeleland North and South, Midlands and Masvingo provinces.
So far, the affected doctors have been issued with new birth certificates and identification cards as they await new passports which Government said will be availed this week.
In an interview, Mpilo acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said reconstruction of the three buildings started yesterday.
He said the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) had taken over the management of the misfortune.
“The Government has allocated $287 million for reconstruction of all three burnt buildings. Rebuilding has started and we have been graced by ministers led by Dr July Moyo who heads the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing,”
said Prof Ngwenya.
“The Civil Protection Unit has taken over the management of rebuilding of the buildings following the terrible fire that we had. We are happy because our Government has assured us that this will just be a temporary arrangement.”
Prof Ngwenya said building material will be purchased this week to enable officers from the Ministry of Public Works to start working on the three buildings.
“There are more than 30 health care workers who were affected and some were forced to even travel out of Bulawayo following last week’s incident which left them traumatised. Once treasury avails funds this week, several Government departments will begin a mass project to help us rebuild in the shortest possible time,”
Prof Ngwenya applauded Government for heeding Mpilo’s call for help and said the development will ensure that the hospital has happy employees who will continue serving masses from the Southern region.
He added that the engagements with Government were still continuing and in no time the affected healthcare workers will lead normal lives again.
Bulawayo has rallied behind the affected doctors and campaigns have been established to help them have food, clothing, toiletries and blankets. Their plight was discussed on a number of WhatsApp platforms with calls for members of the public to help them.
Women Institute of Leadership Development (WILD), Christian Alliance, Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE) and IAM4 BYO partnered to co-ordinate donations for the doctors.
The organisations have already gathered toiletries, clothing and food which were distributed to the doctors.
Ms Jana Ncube from IAM4 BYO said it was the duty of every resident to help the doctors get back on their feet.