Covid 19: A Call for Unity and Action in Zimbabwe

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) implores the government of Zimbabwe to speedily draft and implement a national plan on managing and mitigating the spread of Covid-19 (Corona Virus) in Zimbabwe.

While we commend the government for issuing a gazette on measures to contain COVID 19, developments in the country before and after these measures do not point to vigilance in insulating citizens against Coronavirus.

Barely a day after banning public gatherings, a rally with thousands of citizens in Nyanga was held. Such a development undermines the measures to address concerns by all Zimbabweans on the country’s preparedness in tackling the virus.

In the same vein, there is a need for the Government of Zimbabwe to enforce the measures regardless of political affiliations and social standing. Currently, the measures to combat the spread of the virus appear to be mere suggestions that are not adhered to by political parties, government departments such as the registrar general’s office, ports of entry, schools, private companies and other workplaces, where large people gather, making the recommendation ineffective.

Integration of Services

As there is no vaccine or specific treatment, the containment of the outbreak is based on a number of measures including identifying people who are sick, bringing them to care, following up on contacts, preparing hospitals and clinics to manage a surge in patients, and training health workers.

Integration of services in the health system and across other sectors will improve the ability to absorb and adapt to shock. This includes the immigration department responsible for ports of entry, aviation department responsible for all flights in and outside the country, arts and entertainment and the tourism sector amongst others.

Developments in the SADC Region

Our concern is that these developments are taking place at a time when the virus is spreading rapidly in neighbouring countries, with 87 confirmed cases to-date.

A number of Zimbabweans, due to the protracted economic meltdown in the country and high unemployment, has seen neighboring countries becoming home to many Zimbabweans in search of employment and cross border trading.

Zimbabwe, therefore should be on high alert given the intense economic and social mobility of its citizens.

The need for a vibrant and functional Public Health Care System

The virus that has claimed several lives globally comes at a time when Zimbabwe is struggling to address incapacitation of the health care facilities and personnel. The government spent the greater part of 2019 failing to secure adequate drugs, consumables and improving healthcare infrastructure, a situation that led to a number of health workers leaving the country for greener pastures.

In light of the virus, the government needs to seriously consider strengthening the health care system to allow for easier case management as well as ensuring that personnel are protected from the virus.

Introduction of appropriate containment measures, governance structures, financing and standard operating systems which will include reporting guidelines should be prioritised.

Recommendations

We recommend the strengthening of healthcare institutions to ensure accessible medical care for all in line with section 76 (1) of the Constitution:

  1. In the medium to long term, the state must establish a National Health Insurance scheme that is publicly funded to ensure that healthcare is available, accessible and affordable to every citizen who needs it.
  2. Restoring public confidence in the health care system by establishing more resilient health care systems, adequately equipping facilities and incentivising health workforce.
  3. Enforcing the ban on large gatherings coupled with local measures to ensure that the vulnerable access food and other essential services should be considered.
  4. Undertaking safe public awareness raising on prevention and mitigating steps.
  5. Periodic and timely updates on progress to insulate against the spread of the virus
  6. Corporates and government departments are encouraged to develop plans to mitigate and prevent the spread of the virus.

Source: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition