By Kuda Pembere
Utano Africa, a local distributing company for an Indian Based company which manufactures hip and knee implants named Meril, donated five knee and hip implants to patients on the waiting list in Harare’s central hospitals.
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals went into a partnership with Utano Africa for the operation of the five patients. Three patients had knee replacements while two got hip replacements.
Utano Africa business development officer, Mr Calvin Majoro said they have sent five Zimbabwean doctors to India on an exchange program to learn latest trends in joint replacement surgery.
And as part of the program through equip us. our doctors there, they were in Africa. It’s pretty advanced, but we also need them to constantly train, which is the life of a doctor. But one of the things that we have done with our sister company called Meril, who are the owners of the implants that we’re distributing, is we have identified Zimbabwe as a country that we intend in the future to do what we call a masterclass.
“We will be bringing surgeons from other countries that are behind Zimbabwe to come and be trained in Zimbabwe. While this we are tending to our patients, we are also going to, and that means we are also going to continuously bring in the next step from outside the country from India to work with us because this way, there are many things that we can improve,” he said. “
He noted that the total cost for knee and hip replacement fetches between US$7000 and US$10 000 calling on the corporate world to chip in the costs for this type of surgery.
Being expensive for a majority of Zimbabweans, Parirenyatwa’s Head of Orthopedics Dr Akimu Mageza said private public partnerships are important as they reduce the burden not only on the patient but the government in procuring the implants.
“I’m sure you’ll know the government have been talking about private-public partnerships and providing affordable healthcare services and improving the health delivery system.
“So such partnerships are key because you get a private player bringing in cheap and affordable implants, which then are easily affordable to the patients. And we get to do the surgeries in private,” he said.
He also said if these implants are accessible at affordable fees, the process will be smoother.
“That offloads the burden of capital injection from the government institutions. Because we all know that these institutions are capital strained. They are catering for food, other drugs and stuff like that. So if somebody then brings the implant and the patient then gets to acquire the crucial implants if somebody then brings the implant for an affordable fee, then that makes these surgeries go forward smoothly than ever before,” Dr Mageza said.
Dr Mageza also said the total cost for a hip or knee replacement is around US$7 000.
“The cost is variable depending on where one is seeking their services. And the cost of drivers include the implant itself. Also, that depends on which company you’re getting the implant from. Probably from US$1 600 to around USD 2 000, depending on where you’re getting it from. Both for the hip and the knee implants.
“Then the other cost driver is the hospital. If you are having this done in the government sector, then the cost is quite minimum and affordable. That’s why we want these guys to come and partner with the government to work some public-private partnership of a sort and hopefully provide the implants for affordable fees. And hopefully they also get to support our work in the government institutions,” he said.
Consultant orthopedic surgeon Dr Munyaradzi Ndekwere said Zimbabwe’s public hospitals have the capacity to do knee and hip replacements but the only hindrance is financial resources.
“It’s not that we can’t do joint replacements. We can. What we don’t have is the financial resources to do it. Because patients have to buy their own implants.
“We are hoping that if we get another player on the market, the prices will probably come down from competition, and more patients can afford to buy the implants so that we can do the surgeries that they require,” he said.