296 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as of 18 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 27 892, after 689 new cases were reported, all are local cases and of which 339 cases are from Harare alone and Mashonaland West with second-highest new case tally of 80 cases. Active cases, emerging from the weekend tally have gone down to 9 747 cases after 860 new recoveries were recorded. This brings the total number of recoveries to 17 372. The recovery rate has therefore gone up to at 62.3%. The death toll now stands at 773, after 60 new deaths were recorded.
The 14th day of the 2nd hard lockdown represents an alarming moment in the COVID pandemic, marking the end of grim week of over 200 deaths amidst communities reporting strain on adhering to lockdown measures in the absence of ameliorative measures to sustain their lives and livelihoods.
Critical Emerging Issues
Public access for SGBV survivors to hospitals
We highlight that globally evidence from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic shows that Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) is rising rapidly, and that access to services and modes of delivery of services for victims/survivors of this type of violence are changing quickly, due to measures to contain the virus at the international, national and local levels. In light of the real-time constraints, institutions and individual seeking to access public health care support for SGBV have encountered some difficulties which are creating gaps in our local monitoring and global obligatory reporting. The lockdown has, to an extent, exacerbated known drivers of intimate partner violence (IPV) and domestic violence such as increased stress at the household level, as well as lockdowns, social distancing or self-isolation making it harder for women and girls to escape abuse and access support.
Reports also indicate that regular health, psychosocial and safe-house services are being overwhelmed, while traditional walk-in services are becoming harder to access or not operating.
Due to travel bans and other lockdown measures, access to critical services such as clinical management of rape, healthcare services for survivors of violence in the home or family, sexual and reproductive healthcare, as well as mental health and psychosocial support, have been interrupted in certain instances. This has posed real danger of unplanned or forced pregnancy, unsafe abortions, inadequate prenatal and post-natal care for pregnant and lactating women, increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, self-harm and suicide. Our monitoring reveals that survivors are facing challenges accessing services at hospitals, e,g in Harare where most council clinics have been closed. In addition, roadblocks and an absence of travel letters have also contributed to the challenges in accessing services. We note that these challenges discourage survivors from seeking help timeously.
- We therefore recommend prioritisation of access to GBV especially SGBV services in public hospitals, at provincial land district levels and at other local clinics.
- We further urge the publication of data relating to clinic closures, which is critical for tracking purposes and enhancing support services.
- We continue to call for expanded access to information on GBV services, including publicizing hotlines, tollfree lines and database of local public health facilities where women and girls can receive compassionate and sensitive care. We recommend that this information be integrated into the national COVID-19 response messaging.
Social protection during lockdown
We continue to raise the urgent need for Government to ensure that the lockdown is supported with the prioritisation of livelihood support in communities. We highlight that the lockdown can only be successful if citizens do not need to place themselves in danger as they seek to secure food, water and livelihood support. We underscore the fact that the inability of households to respect the lockdown is directly correlated to other persisting deprivation and insecurities they face on a day-to-day basis. The pandemic will continue to bedevil the nation especially, if the measures to increase access to social-economic goods and services, as part of strong social protection systems, are not implemented by Government.
- We therefore recommend that Government announces the direct distribution of basic commodities and food in communities similar to the subsidized mealie meal distribution program.
- We call for the expansion of the cash transfer support to vulnerable households and the direct increase of the amounts to support vulnerable households.
- We call for the provision of support for households who are no longer able to sustain themselves due to loss of livelihoods, especially women-led households.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe