By John Kachembere
ECONET founder Strive Masiyiwa has honoured his pledge of donating Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ventilator suites, with the equipment now in Zimbabwe and ready to be deployed to the country’s public hospitals.
Masiyiwa acquired the 45 life-saving equipment – through his Higher Life Foundation Zimbabwe and some donor partners – from the United Kingdom.
In addition to the ventilators, the businessman also secured critical equipment such as oxygen concentrators, which are vital in providing the much-needed oxygen to a patient that is being ventilated, or just needs oxygen therapy.
The equipment, which arrived in the country this week, also includes suction machines, laryngoscopes and consumables such as endotracheal tubes, infusion sets, drip stands, suction tubes, oxygen tubes, syringes, airway-filters, airways and nasal cannulas.
Also supplied along with the ventilators is an oxygen splitter, which allows for a single ventilator to be used by two patients simultaneously.
The equipment is expected to strengthen Zimbabwe’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic that has significantly impacted lives of millions of individuals, families, and communities around the world.
Zimbabwe’s total number of confirmed cases in the country stood at 512 yesterday with 64 recoveries, 442 active cases and 6 deaths recorded since the onset of the outbreak in the country on March 20, 2020.
The increasing positive cases, and now deaths, point to the significance of the ventilators which, in the fight against Covid-19, can save lives.
Zimbabwe has a critical shortage of ventilators, something that Masiyiwa has acknowledged before.
When he made the pledge, Masiyiwa emphasised the donation was a “drop in the bucket, in terms of actual requirement” and called on mining companies and corporate players in other industries to follow suit.
Meanwhile, sources familiar with the development said this will not be a typical “Charity Donation”, but a model where the ownership of the ventilators remains with Higherlife Foundation and Mars.
Mars will provide technical support such as service, repair, maintenance and training.
Observers say this is the best arrangement as the burden to keep the ventilators in good working condition is removed from government, which is often cash constrained due to competing priorities.
The donors and the government of Zimbabwe have agreed that the equipment will be distributed across all the country’s provinces and will also include Mission Hospitals. By their size, Harare and Bulawayo will get the bulk of the equipment.
Masiyiwa, who is also the African Union’s special envoy to coordinate the Africa private sector initiative for the procurement of personal protective equipment and other essential supplies, has been working with global entrepreneurs, Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Skoll, and recently announced that 1 000 ventilators are being manufactured in SA, under free licence.
He said these will be distributed for free to several African countries including 200 to Zimbabwe.