196 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 10 October 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased 8 010, after 16 new cases were reported. Active cases went up to 1 288. 18 new recoveries were recorded. The total number of recoveries stands at 6 492. The death toll now stands at 230.
Today we join the rest of the world, in commemorating the Day of the Girl Child. We commend the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise for bringing to the fore the challenges currently being faced by the girl child during COVID-19. We call for the same to put shoulder to wheel and deliver on the implementation of real time measures as resourced by the state to ensure tangible safeguarding and protection of the girl child.
Emerging Critical Issues
Community transmission: workplaces and public spots
Our monitoring continues to reveal an increase in economic and social activities within communities and businesses, yet at the same time, demonstrating nonadherence to safety measures such as physical distancing, sanitization of workplaces and regular temperature checks. We worry that such conduct may lead the nation into another spike of COVID-19 cases.
- We continue to urge citizens to observe physical distancing as they meet and interact in public places such as banking halls.
- We urge businesses to continuously fumigate premises and workplaces for the safety of workers and patrons.
- We continue to call for the strict implementation of public health safety protocols in the public transport system.
Access to documentation
We continue to raise distress calls over the new measures that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage has put in place to ensure safe operations. We note that the Minister indicated that people wishing to obtain birth certificates will have to call the Central Registry first, get vetted online and are given numbers and dates on which they can visit the Central Registry.
We raise concerns that such measures are discriminatory and exclusionary. Firstly, the Central Registry Offices are not easily accessible to everyone due to long distances which may need to be travelled. Secondly, most individuals do not have the resources and capacity to call the Central Registry in order to “book an appointment.”
We have already noted how expensive communication and data has become in Zimbabwe. We raise these concerns particularly as we are aware that mothers of newly born babies will take the hardest hit with regard to such discriminatory measures, particularly those in the rural areas and other vulnerable groups. In essence:
- We, therefore, call to order, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, to remind them of section 81 of the Constitution, which provides that every child has the right to the prompt provision of a birth certificate.
- We recommend a rapid decentralization of Central Registry services, through establishing Mobile Birth Certificate-issuing clinics in communities to ensure easy access by all citizens. This will also go a long way in decongesting the Central Registry and dealing with backlogs.
Stigma and discrimination
Reports from our networks continue to reveal an increase in social stigma and discriminatory behaviour 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.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe