Community members from Buhera, Mutasa, and Chivi have expressed concern over the high price of face masks. Following the announcement by President Emerson Mnangagwa on 1 May 2020, that people must wear face masks of any type, even home-made cloth ones, local communities have noted that local businesses have hiked the price of masks due to high demand.
In Districts such as Buhera, Chivi and Mutasa, face masks are pegged between US$1-US$6 depending on the quality. In areas such as Headlands and Chimanimani, homemade masks are pegged between ZW$20-25. Speaking in virtual information centers established by communities that work with Heal Zimbabwe from these districts, community members highlighted that the sharp rise in face masks were inhibitive on the economic life of communities as they are unable to access services at Business centers and growth points. “We are unable to access key goods services from Business centers without face masks. Our food supplies have dried up and without face masks we cannot even buy basic commodities,” said one community member from Chimanimani. Other community members highlighted that police officers at most business centers are turning away people without proper face masks from business centres. Left with no viable option, communities are then forced to buy proper masks being sold at business centres. Besides the cost of masks, community members also noted that they were not aware of the proper and safe way of wearing face masks
As part of solutions, communities resolved to take the matter up with their local leaders such as Councillors so that government can ensure that face masks are given for free. Community members also resolved to engage Village Health Workers so that they train and educate communities on the proper and safe way of wearing face masks. The Virtual Information Centers by Heal Zimbabwe are an initiative meant to equip communities with relevant information on Covid 19, facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities.
Source: Heal Zimbabwe