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WOMENS rights organisations under the Womens’ Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) have called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to urgently act on the healthcare crisis gripping the country.
The coalition made up of 63 women’s organisations argued that the government has been ignoring the healthcare sector at the detriment of not only women and girls but also the general population.
Their concerns come after nurses demonstrating across the country were arrested at different hospitals as they protested for better wages and working conditions.
“The day-to-day lives of women and girls have lost the limited offshoots of gains that the pre (COVID-19) lock-down socio-economic context had purported to provide. At the inception of the lock-down on 30 March 2020, a promise was made to address the lives of women and girls through a state policy that would balance the issues of lives and livelihoods, with the government in the lead. This has not come to pass.”
“Women have faced an unprecedented innumerable loss of lives in maternal health, limited to non-existent access to basic healthcare in most primary health centres, a protracted shortage of medication, lack of patient care, lack of resources including basic medication, lack of substantive access to family planning pills and services, and the unacceptable absence of key personnel at these centres with no resolve to address the issues on the part of the Government. We therefore implore you Mr President, to urgently address the issues of ensuring the availability of qualified health personnel in all the health centres,” WCoZ chairperson Ronika Mumbire said.
Mumbire said since the lock-down began more than 100 days ago, Mnangagwa promised to provide fortnightly updates of the COVID-19 situation in the country- a promise which he has now since abandoned.
The WCoZ board chairperson also highlighted that since the first cases of the coronavirus were reported in the country in March the Ministry of Health and Child Care has undergone major personnel movements which have adversely affected its operations.
She pointed at the reshuffling of the permanent secretary to the National COVID-19 task-force and also at the firing of the Minister of Health and Child Care, to highlight that the government has been inundated with problems in the sector, which it apparently has failed to resolve.
Mumbire emphasized the need for government to revert back to its core mandate which is proving adequate primary healthcare to the country’s citizens, as mandated by the Constitution.
“It is therefore our key ask that the President in whom all power and accountability to the citizenry resides communicates the current status quo in relation to the allegations of corruption and subsequent dismissal of the Minister as well as the status of health personnel at health centres throughout the country. The President should reflect and act urgently upon the rights of the patients, workers’ rights notwithstanding, and review the patients’ charter to ensure its contents and spirit are carried out to the letter in the interests of addressing the immediate needs of women and indeed all the citizenry in Zimbabwe. The President should transcend the discourse of arrests and arbitrary unilateral solutions, to ensure the urgent prioritization of resources and investment into the public health system, as a reflection of his stated political will and commitment in line with his responsibilities to the country as a whole,” she said.
11 nurses have been remanded out of custody on $1 000 bail after appearing at the Mbare Magistrates Court for contravening the COVID-19 regulations by partaking in an unauthorized gathering.
The strike which began last week has seen nurses arguing that their salaries, which average less than US$40 (per month) are not enough, while the government’s COVID-19 incentive of US$75 (per month) is a slap in the face to the profession.
THE Ministry of primary and Secondary Education has advised against the use of schools for religious and political gatherings citing COVID-19 contamination concerns.
Minister Cain Mathema said he had been inundated with requests by various organisations for permission to use school halls during the lock-down.
His refusal to open schools for public gatherings comes as the Zimbabwean government announced that it would go ahead with reopening schools on July 28 despite the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases and related deaths that the country is now experiencing.
“The government’s focus is on ensuring safe and secure reopening that meets the World Health Organisation guidelines. Given the need to disinfect schools and make other preparations, the schools will not be open for use by other organisations until further notice,” Mathema said.
He emphasised that only examination classes will be opening while other levels will resume school when the health situation permits.
Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 cases continue to soar, with Health Access Zimbabwe’s analysis of the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s daily COVID-19 reports suggesting that the country may now be entering the exponential growth phase of growth in reported cases. The number of COVID-19 related deaths have also started to rise just within the past week, after having held steady for weeks. As of writing, the country has now recorded over 900 positive COVID-19 tests and 12 related deaths.
Various organisations have raised concern over the growing number of local transmissions arguing that it was not safe to continue relaxing the current lock-down regulations.
Community Working Group on Health Executive Director, Itai Rusike, said other sectors such as security, social protection and information should now be more involved in the fight against COVID-19 as their contributions toward mitigating the pandemic are important.
He said there is need for a concerted effort by everyone in order to contain the continued spread through increased surveillance and enforcement of lock-down regulations, which now seem relaxed.
“The Zimbabwe health system’s response should coordinate the pandemic preparedness through strengthening capacities at ports of entry and reinforcing isolation and quarantine facilities to improve testing and quick results, which would in turn result in enhanced contact tracing of cases,” Rusike said.
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Focus: Using digital tools for contract tracing in Zimbabwe
“With Zimbabwe’s first COVID-19 case, we used paper tools to facilitate data management during case investigation and contact tracing, but our contact tracers faced many challenges with follow up and reporting,” says Manes Munyanyi, Deputy Director Health Information and Surveillance Systems for Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care.
A NURSE at the privately owned Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo who was captured on CCTV taking a picture of a memo detailing charges for Covid-19 patients admitted to the institution, has resigned. The hospital had ordered the nurse to explain his actions in writing. The memo which is […]
Dated July 1, 2020, the memo from credit control to the hospital’s departments, advised staff that Covid-19 patients attended at the casualty ward would be required to pay US$60, US$3 000 for general ward and critical patients needing admission in the Intensive Care Unit will have to part with US$5 000.
A health crisis is looming at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals after Sisters-in-Charge withdrew their services at the country’s largest referral public health network.
The latest move comes a week after nurses and doctors downed their tools in protest of unresolved poor salaries and working conditions.
“We note with concern the lack of urgency by the employer in addressing issues raised by ZiNA (the Zimbabwe Nurses Association)” the Sisters-in-Charge wrote in a notice submitted to the hospitals management on Wednesday.
“The ongoing incapacitation has not been doing any good to the patient care in this COVID-19 pandemic period.”
“We have noted that despite the sacrifices shown by nurses the employer has not been forthcoming.”
“As part of ZiNA membership, we share the same grievances and we have been holding fort at our respective wards despite being overwhelmed by workload.”
“After consultation and deliberations we hereby notify that we are withdrawing our services with immediate effect until the employer takes the nurses grievances seriously by way of fruitful negotiations.”
The ongoing protests by doctors and nurses have been major highlights in the health sector since President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s new administration came into power two years ago.
The current industrial action in the health sector comes days after government awarded civil servants 50 percent salary increase along with a temporary Covid-19 allowance of US$75 to be paid to all government workers for the next three months.
Nurses in Zimbabwe currently earn an average US$62 per month.
The current strike also comes as the country is seeing an upsurge in the number of reported positive cases of COVID-19.
Zimbabwe has recorded the most dramatic spike in COVID-19 positive cases since the first case was reported in the country on the 20th of March this year.
Presenting a post-Cabinet media brief on Wednesday, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said that the number of COVID-19 tests conducted so far had increased from 31 589 recorded on 17 May to 38 656.
“To date, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stands at 132, up from the 56 cases recorded on 24 May,” she said.
“This translates to 76 new cases recorded over the two-day period. Most of the tests which yielded these results were done on returnees who are quarantined in Masvingo town, Beitbridge and the capital city Harare.
“The number of those who have recovered from COVID-19 infection has increased from eighteen (18) recorded on 17 May 2020 to the current twenty five (25), while the number of deaths remains at four (4).
“The number of active cases now therefore stands at 103,” Mutsvangwa said.
The latest cases have largely been imported through returnees mainly from South Africa and Botswana.
Only one case of local transmission has been recorded.
Mutsvangwa also told the media that security at quarantine centres is being tightened in order to ensure that those returning from abroad do not escape.
This statement follows reports that 18 returnees quarantined at Mkoba Teachers College in Gweru city went missing.
Those missing a reported to be 15 men, three women, and a young boy.
Meanwhile the government has appealed to traditional leaders and local authorities to report known absconders and illegal returnees.
With the opening of schools now imminent, Cabinet has agreed that schools cease being used as quarantine centres for returnees, in order to allow sufficient time for the disinfection of the facilities.
Cabinet was advised that Wilkins and Parirenyatwa Hospitals in Harare, are now ready to admit critical patients, while Mater Dei in Bulawayo, and all Provincial Hospitals are ready to admit mild cases.
Cabinet further agreed that additional PCR testing equipment and materials be purchased, and that priority for COVID-19 testing be given to quarantine centres and those who are known to have come into contact with positive COVID-19 cases, and that funding for construction of border roads, procurement of drones and other related technical equipment be prioritized, so as to adequately empower enforcement agents to effectively monitor the country’s borders.
We are glad to announce the partial unveiling of our new website with the revealing of the first ever data visualization of Zimbabwe’s COVID-19. This is just the first step in the our now ongoing journey towards becoming a reliable platform facilitating access to healthcare resources in Zimbabwe, as well as to factual medical and health data and information on Zimbabwe.
The launch of this initiative has been facilitated by private donations. To honor the trust given to us by those donors and our other supporters, we will be sharing quarterly financial reports with our registered users on the current platform, starting at the end of June, 2020 (and every three months there-after).
While our initial focus will be on the COVID-19 pandemic, our long-term objective is to serve as a comprehensive resource on all health-topics and issues that impact Zimbabwe.
This initiative has been launched to benefit the Zimbabwean community at large. We hope you will support us in this endeavor and that you will stay engaged with us by volunteering, donating and even offering constructive criticism that will make this a worthwhile resource for all.