Recognising that today is World Health Day where we celebrate, honour, salute and call for collective care and support for Nurses and Midwives at the fore front of COVID 19 frontline response. Today marks the 9th Day of the COVID 19 Lockdown.

Realising that Zimbabwe is still struggling to find the appropriate balance between safeguarding public processes that are necessary to keep the communities and the country at large going, whilst at the same time, ensuring that public health measures targeting the reduction of the spread of the COVID-19 are also upheld.

Recognising the difficulties faced by communities, Government and individual citizens.

We therefore, call for greater attention to be paid to the following as we plan ahead and tweak the Zimbabwean COVID-19 response mechanisms.

Community Engagement and Phased Approaches

Appreciating the relaxation of the strict protocols placed for access to food markets and agricultural supply delivery lines, we recommend that such measures be supported and escorted by community engagement and phased approaches to administrative decision-making processes. Reference is made to the Mbare Musika vegetable market, where it would have been useful and prudent for Government to engage with the Mbare Musika market vendors and farmer representative groups prior to fully opening the market. Such engagement would have been critical in assisting in the development and adherence to social distancing and sanitization protocols.

  • We urge against the temptation to shut down the market due to poor adherence as evidenced by the open food markets today, and rather call for the strict monitoring and supervision of the markets, with social distancing and COVID 19 hygiene protocols put in place and enforced by law enforcement agents.
  • We further call upon the various arms of Government which have received proposals on how to make such markets operational to implement such proposal urgently.
  • Furthermore, we urge vendors and traders to observe public health guidelines on COVID-19 and
  • Call upon citizens who are standing in ques to secure their much needed supplies to strive to respect social distancing and protect themselves and others from the COVID 19 spread.

Critical Emerging Issues

As of 7th April 2020, we have noted the following critical emerging issues that require urgent redress:

1. Low testing and delay in setting up more isolation centres

Noting that as at 6 April 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care has only conducted 371 cumulative tests;

Concerned that to date Wilkins remains the only isolation centre for COVID-19 patients,

Understanding that the Lockdown alone, is not the universal solution to COVID-19, but must be supported with additional measures such as vigorous testing, and early case detection;

  • We reiterate our call upon Government to expedite decentralization of COVID-19 testing, to other provinces and districts through-out the country.

2. Mealie meal shortages

Concerned that mealie meal remains a scarce basic commodity throughout the country;

Deeply concerned by reports showing citizens disregarding social-distancing as they queue for mealie meal, particularly as seen today at Sam Levy Village Borrowdale, Zengeza 2 and Kariba;

Buttressing the calls we have previously made, that hunger and shortages of basic commodities, will impact on citizens’ ability to cooperate under the lockdown enforcement;

We therefore call upon the authorities to put in place measures of ensuring that citizens access basic commodities in their wards, observing social distancing and other public health guidelines

Outstanding Issues

1. Transparency, Inadequate information and statistics

Appreciating the information, we have received concerning 7 Zimbabwean citizens returning from the US, who have been placed under mandatory quarantine in Harare;

However, remaining deeply concerned that the general public has not been updated on the progress on tracing and monitoring of (at least 13 000) returning residents from South Africa and other High-Risk Countries;

Reminding the nation that transparency is critical in this crisis;

  • We call upon the attention of the Ministry of Health and Child Care, that until the status of monitoring of this group of persons is publicised and supported with clinical testing, the figures of the persons infected with coronavirus will remain an area of concern for the general public.
  • We also call upon The Ministry of Health and Child Care to provide sex disaggregated data in COVID 19 Updates.

2. Measures for Persons With Disabilities

Concerned that Zimbabwe has now moved 9 days into the lockdown, without publicising specific measures to support persons with Disabilities during the COVID-19 lockdown; Appreciating the comprehensive statement issued by the United Nations Chairperson on the UN Committee on Rights for Persons with Disabilities and the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General on Disability and Accessibility, regarding measurers to be taken for Persons with Disabilities during the COVID-
19 crisis;

  • We continue to call upon Government to publicize steps and measures for supporting persons with disabilities during the lockdown and also to ensure that special mechanisms are adopted, to lessen their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

3. Protection of Supply Lines for Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

Recognising the critical need to continue provision of sexual and reproductive health services during the lockdown. Appreciating the inclusion of the sanitary-ware in the designation of essential services, and industries that are exempted to continue operations during lockdown;

  • Deeply concerned by numerous reports received from Harare, Gweru, Kwekwe, Chipinge, Chimanimani, Kadoma and Kariba indicating a desperate unmet need for family planning and sexual and reproductive health products and services;
  • We reinforce our call for special attention to the supply lines and delivery services of family planning and sexual and reproductive health products and services.

4. Cascading shelter facilities for the homeless

Appreciating that Government, through the Department of Social Welfare, has publicized quarantine arrangements in Mount Hampden and Jamaica Inn, Ruwa, for homeless children and families in Harare, a significant section of our vulnerable population in other towns and districts remain exposed. It is therefore critical that Government expedite efforts to cater for all vulnerable families throughout the 10 provinces in Zimbabwe.

This SITREP is develop by and through the collective network of organisational and individual members of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe who are engaged at community levels to national levels in the COVID19 Zimbabwe response.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)