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Despite not yet being open, a new children’s orthopaedic hospital in Zimbabwe has turned tailor to use surplus theatre drapes to provide PPE protection to neighbouring doctors treating COVID patients.

The NDORMS global surgery group has over the years run surgical training courses in Zimbabwe, with faculty from the NOC. This work has led to a collaboration with Zimbabwean orthopaedic surgeons in setting up a Trust that is partnering with the Ministry of Health to build a new children's orthopaedic hospital in Bulawayo.

The Ministry has provided a 10 acre site with some dilapidated buildings. With private funding we have renovated these buildings and are ready now to equip and staff them. We have sourced both new and ex-NHS equipment and aim to have 2 operating theatres and 20 beds for children who need reconstructive surgery for conditions such as angular limb deformity, untreated clubfoot, chronic osteomyelitis, malunion and non union. Children with these conditions are often from the poorest groups in society and we will provide their care free. The hospital will need supportive funding to start with but our business plan is to have a private ward where adults will pay for services such as joint replacement and the profits will cover the kids surgery. Our aim is to make the hospital a teaching centre and we have lecture and teaching rooms, as well as offices and research space. It is a long term project with our Zimbabwean partners.

Drone view from August 2019. Admin building (middle) with offices looking onto upstairs veranda, new theatres to the left of admin and children ward left of that. Adult private ward on right. Drone view from August 2019. Admin building (middle) with offices looking onto upstairs veranda, new theatres to the left of admin and children ward left of that. Adult private ward on right.

Although we have not opened yet we are working closely with local surgeons who are keen to use the new facilities when we open. As Coronavirus has now reached Zimbabwe, medical and nursing staff in the nearby government hospital are already seeing infective cases, yet there is no PPE. We have an excess of old waterproof theatre drapes, certainly more than we will need, so our team has had the helpful idea of using these old theatre drapes to make gowns, hats and masks. We have engaged a couple of tailors to make these items. They are not perfect but certainly better than nothing, and they are washable.

Like the UK, Zimbabwe has gone into lockdown and like the UK we don't know how long it will last. But when it is over we will be ready to recruit staff, start training and hopefully open in the second half of 2020. So there will be more blogs to come!

Tailors using surplus theatre curtains to sew PPE Tailors using surplus theatre curtains to sew PPE