Howard Hospital is a Salvation Army facility situated in the Chiweshe communal land of Zimbabwe, which is 80 kilometres north of the capital of Harare.
Howard Hospital has a rich history of serving the needs of those in the surrounding communities. The Salvation Army began Howard as a school in 1923. As the need for a regional health care provider became apparent, the facility grew into a primary-care hospital.
The Salvation Army’s vision for Howard has always been that of a rural hospital providing the best possible primary care to those seeking its services. These sustainable goals remain the vision for the future, and for the good of all people.
Over recent months, The Salvation Army has been maligned and falsely accused of wrongdoing. Allegations have been made concerning the administration of donated funds and goods at Howard Hospital. In response, The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters sent a fact-finding team to Zimbabwe to examine the processing and use of donations to the hospital.
The team reported that:
• There was no sign that goods or funds donated directly to The Salvation Army in Canada for use by the Howard Hospital were diverted from their original purpose.
• The hospital continues to operate with qualified medical personnel serving thousands of people each month.
• Media reports that the hospital is functioning at 10% are false. Patients continue to be treated at Howard and more difficult cases are being referred to other facilities.
For the past 17 years, Dr. Paul Thistle, a Canadian-born medical doctor trained at the University of Toronto, has served at Howard Hospital. He, along with his wife Pedrinah, a Zimbabwean-born nurse/midwife, are also Salvation Army officers.
Salvation Army officers are regularly transferred to different appointments. Captains Dr. Paul and Pedrinah Thistle have done an extraordinary job in Zimbabwe and we are grateful to them for that service. Effective September 2012, they were released from their duties at Howard Hospital in order to return to Canada.
Reports have circulated in the media that the Thistles were moved because they brought accusations of corruption against The Salvation Army in Zimbabwe. These reports are simply not true and at no time were such concerns shared with Salvation Army leadership by either of them.
The decisions related to Captains Dr. Paul and Pedrinah Thistle are final. The Salvation Army, like most denominations, does not discuss personnel moves in a public forum.
The Salvation Army Canada remains committed to the work of Howard Hospital. Over the past few weeks and months, the organization:
• paid for a shipment of medical supplies worth $300,000;
• paid overdue bills totaling $30,000 to keep the electricity on;
• paid $15,000 for much-needed pharmaceutical supplies.
The Army in Canada is also eager to work with all willing partners to support the work of Howard Hospital. Countless Canadian donors support the Army’s work in developing countries and by following strict Canadian governmental regulations for all such projects, The Salvation Army in Canada is confident that the public will continue to support this vital facility in Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, arrangements are being made for Canadian Salvation Army staff to be on the ground to assist in the development of a proposal to address specific sustainability concerns over the next number of months.
The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters is in the process of appointing a new Chief Medical Officer at Howard. Currently Dr. Aaron Museka, a well-qualified Zimbabwean doctor, is the acting Chief Medical Officer.