86 days into the lockdown, the Ministry of Health and Child-Care reported that as at 22 June 2020, the total number of Covid-19 cases had risen 512 cases.
We applaud the Ministry of Health and Child-Care for intensifying awareness campaigns in communities following the sharp increase in community transmission cases.
We urge other stakeholders to increase efforts on disseminating information on Covid-19 within the communities, especially as citizens have demonstrated relaxation and complacency regarding containment of the pandemic.
We commend Parliament and other stakeholders for opening engagement on the support required for persons with disabilities, during Covid-19, particularly measures for easing challenges faced by the deaf community.
Critical Emerging Issues
Gendered response in quarantine and isolation centres
Statistics released by the Ministry of Health and Childcare reveal that currently there is a total of 2 019 quarantined persons nationwide. Of these 1025 are women, 858 are men and 136 are children. It is important to note that women constitute a highest percentage of the quarantined persons.
This opens up reflections on gender-specific issues such as sexual abuse, violence and hygiene. It further calls for a gendered responsiveness and preparedness within the centres, in order to ensure security and safeguarding of women and children, who are the most vulnerable sections of the population.
- We therefore recommend accelerated safeguarding measures within the centres through the integration of SGBV into the Quarantine Centres Management, including training of staff on how to properly service different genders.
- We further recommend establishment of protection Guidelines and Dissemination of information in the 14 National Languages, on sexual violence within the centres and the help available.
Reinforcement of Security at Quarantine and Isolation centres
Gravely concerned with recurring incidents of persons absconding Quarantine. Reports show that in the last 7days alone, a total of 3 Covid-19 patients escaped Quarantine in Harare and Beitbridge. This brings the number total of Quarantine escapees to 184 cases.
Reports also show that the 3 patients who managed to escape were all being held at Government operated Quarantine centres. No reports have been noted of escapees from private owned facilities.
According to reports, Government is currently operating 43 centres, while the Private sector is operating 37.
- We urge the authorities to investigate the security activities within the Government-run centres which make it possible for patients escape.
- We call upon Government to reinforce and strengthen it security systems at quarantine and isolation centres.
Education and Radio Lessons
We note the roll-out of the radio lessons program. While commending this move as critical in ensuring that pupils do not lag behind, we reiterate the need to ensure that the system is inclusive, and does not exacerbate inequalities by marginalizing rural pupils and those with disabilities.
We further raise concern over the plight of the girl-child and extending burden of unpaid care-work in light of Covid-19. Understanding that these critical issues, will lead to unequal opportunities amongst pupils;
- We query if the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, has set in place monitoring and evaluation strategies to measure the success and practicability of this initiative.
- We further recommend that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education continuously collect disaggregated data and update the Nation on pupils’ access and attendance to the radio lessons.
- We further recommend the data to be gender disaggregated, in order to ensure that girls attend the lessons, and are not consumed with the burden of unpaid care work, within the household.
Deteriorating health sector and impact on women
As we continue to witness the deterioration of the health sector, amidst protests by health workers over poor working conditions and incapacitated hospitals. Appreciating the dire consequences this will have on the systems’ responsiveness to Covid-19. Further noting that such incapacitation will result in women failing to access certain health services including maternal services.
- We urge the immediate resuscitation of the health sector
- We further recommend implementation of strategies to ensure adequate support for all health workers, including PPE and sufficient Covid-19 allowances
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe