by Peter Agwa

In June/July 2019, we traveled on a learning mission, to investigate through experience, observation, and dialogue about the needs of Reformed Church in Zimbabwe health services at one of its bases: Gutu Mission Hospital. We went by invitation to determine if a partnership with EMAS Canada might strengthen existing healthcare services and so improve service delivery.

This group brought experience in Canadian hospital medicine including academia; nursing and administration; laboratory medicine; project management and international development; spiritual leadership and international medical missions; medical teaching and practice in east and central Africa; medical leadership and healthcare services management in rural Zimbabwe.

Our exploratory group (not yet a team by EMAS definitions) worked alongside the hospital staff participating in ward rounds, and attending outpatient clinics.

Nurses do most of the work

The busiest departments are maternal/child health and general outpatients. The maternity ward was full to capacity. Most of the work is done by nurses and midwives, nearly all outpatients are seen exclusively by nurses. The pharmacy manager is a nurse.

During our time in the country, there was drought, shortage of electricity, and fuel; these were compounded by years of economic hardships and international trade sanctions. Despite their adversity, the staff at Gutu Mission Hospital are hardworking, dedicated and have adapted to serving remarkably well within the limitations and shortages imposed by conditions beyond their control. Water shortage due to power rationing led to this water conserving approach to pre-op scrubbing

Reliance on affordable battery operated off-the-shelf blood pressure machines can lead to errors, but as shown in red (see below) the observer was aware that something is not right.

Greater Value

Gutu Mission Hospital is asking for help in replacing old and unreliable equipment such as the X-ray machine, sterilizers, and blood pressure machines. They are looking forward to the upgrading of the skills of staff and lab personnel through continuing professional training, which is by far of greater value.


Peter Agwa is the Executive Director of EMAS Canada. 

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