COVID-19 exposes incompetence in Health Service Delivery

The corona virus pandemic has exposed the country’s weak governance systems. Delegates who attended the Public Opinion Space echoed these sentiments highlighting how much of a threat the pandemic is.

The meeting was facilitated by Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) so as to interrogate the Leadership void in Zimbabwe’s Health Sector amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Over the past weeks President Emmerson Mnangagwa sacked Health Minister Obadiah Moyo who was charged with corruption over illegally awarding a multi-million-dollar contract for medical equipment, leaving the Ministry without leadership at a time when the country is battling with the scourge of the COVID-19.

Dr Bekezela M Ndhlovu, a Senior Medical Officer at Mpilo cited that there is a challenge of inadequate intentional training of on-the-ground staff. Dr Ndhlovu said that there is no clear working protocol for COVID-19 front line healthcare workers.

“Health care workers have been affected by COVID-19 and concerns have been on protection and the screening of members of staff as they enter and leave the hospital,” Dr Ndhlovu added. “The availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) which may be in the form of face masks and suits have not been readily available.”

Speaking during the Public Opinion Space, Honourable Dr Ruth Labode, who is Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care highlighted that the lack of a Minister should not affect delivery of health services.

“When we had a fully fleshed Minister and Permanent Secretary, we nearly lost 20 million. If the Acting Permanent Secretary has got his integrity and wants to do the right thing, he can do it and manage the system. The Ministry has systems; there is a director for disease control, the director for SRH. All these directors are very competent if they come together and choose to work together, they will perform wonders,” said Labode.

“COVID-19 has nothing to do with an Acting Minister or Acting Permanent Secretary. It simply has to do with poor remuneration of doctors, poor health services for citizens, lack of medication in hospitals,” added Labode.

According to Janah Ncube a trustee from I am 4 Byo- Fighting COVID-19, government has invested money to address the infrastructural challenges. A lot of basic infrastructure is being replaced and that is the process that has been carried out since it was declared a COVID-19 facility.

“The bulk of the work has since been completed, regarding preparing the health facility as it was declared as a suitable place to attend to COVID-19 patients,” said Ncube. “60% of the work has been completed although there is significant effort that still needs to be put in ensuring that Ekusileni Medical Centre can begin operations. One of the outstanding aspects has been the recruitment of staff at the medical facility.”

Ncube said: “I am 4 Bulawayo – Fighting COVID 19 assured citizens that resources acquired through the trust will be accounted for.

“We have a board of trustees that regularly keeps stakeholders informed so that there is transparency,”she said.

Buhle Nkomo, one of the attendees at the virtual meeting said local leaders must have a tangible mechanism for accountability

Dr Ruth Labode also implored the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to set aside funding that will cater for vulnerable urban dwellers who are often neglected.

Source: Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD)

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