148 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 24 August 2020, Zimbabwe Cases now breach the 6 000 cases mark after 140 new cases tested positive, of which 134 cases were local transmission cases. Active cases are reported to have gone up to 965 after 78 new recoveries were reported and death toll remains at 155 after a 24 hr period with no reported death.
We commend the efforts to strengthen access to mental health care support to COVID-19 patients by the Ministry of Health and Child Care. We note the development of a “psychological first aid kit” which offers basic psychological support and the screening of persons showing strain and signs of mental health challenges. We further commend the training of healthcare workers, we await to see the transformation of support provided to COVID-19 patients.
We raise alarm at the shooting of two women in Hwange district by security personnel who fired shots to disperse informal coke traders. We raise once more the concern of deployment of armed officers in communities to undertake normal policing and enforcement duties. We are enraged with the gross violations of women human rights by the enforcement officers, and the criminalisation of the informal trade in an economic context that excludes communities from sustainable and equitable participation in the economy to the detriment of women lives.
- We call upon the Parliament of Zimbabwe to expedite the enactment of legislation to make concrete the constitutional provisions of section 210 of an Independent Complaints Commission.
- We call upon the respective Independent Commissions to support democracy to investigate the above matter and support processes of redress to both women, their families and the communities.
Critical Emerging Issues
Access to healthcare services
We continue to raise alarm, at the downing of tools by senior medical doctors and specialists in public health-care facilities. We note with distress, that this situation has resulted in lack of health-care service provision for persons suffering from other chronic diseases, including non-communicable diseases. The situation has, in certain instances, also affected women’s access to maternal health care.
- We call upon Government to substantively make progress in resolving the long outstanding points of disagreement and grievances with the health sector personnel.
- We further urge prioritisation of adequate PPE support to health care workers.
- We recommend implementation of measures to support women and ensure that they access pre and post-natal care, and reproductive health care services without any impediments.
Mass Community, testing and tracing
Distressed by the growing statistics on community transmission, we recognize the urgent need to intensify community mass testing and contact tracing. In the absence of mass community testing and public accounting for local transmission case-tracing we continue to raise queries on the appropriate reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic prevalence in Zimbabwe.
- We reinforce our call for an advanced test strategy which ensures community mass testing and also in the Public sector.
- We further urge Government to give a long outstanding report on the tracing of contacts of the all the local transmission cases in Prisons.
Stigma and discrimination
Reports from our networks reveal an increase in social stigma and discriminatory behaviours against people diagnosed with COVID-19 and those perceived to have been in contact with the virus, including health care personnel. We note that such stigma may undermine social cohesion and drive people to hide the illness in order to avoid discrimination. This may result in the disease likely spreading as people fail to seek immediate medical attention.
- We therefore recommend that stakeholders, community leaders and Government, intensify efforts in meaningfully engaging at the community level, with citizens, including people who have recovered from COVID-19, with their consent, to lead in increasing awareness and reducing stigma and discrimination.
Beerhalls and drinking spots in communities
We continue to note from our monitoring and observations, the illegal operations of beerhalls and nightspots in rural and urban residential areas. We continue to note with grave concern the lack of use of masks, santization and social distancing at these areas.
These drinking nightspots are not undertaking any service area retrofitting and thus despite the use of sanitizers at entrance points there are no real changes in behaviours in spots which the world over have been identified as key drivers of the pandemic.
We raise concern that these nightspots violate the 8pm to 6am curfew and appear to be doing so with the unofficial tacit consent of the authorities.
- We urge enforcement officers to intensify lockdown enforcement in residential area, rather than concentrating on Central Business District and other areas in the proximity.
- We continue to urge communities, and citizens to be responsible in safeguarding their health by complying with public health guidelines.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)