230 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as of 13 November 2020, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 8 765 after 69 new cases were reported, all 69 new cases are local cases. Active cases went up to 418. The total number of recoveries now stands at 8 090 after 28 new recoveries were recorded. The death toll went up by 2 deaths to 257.
Highlighting reports from our monitoring, pertaining to Masvingo Provincial Hospital indicating that a number of healthcare workers including midwives, have allegedly tested positive for COVID-19.
Gravely concerned for healthcare workers who are continuing to report for duty under extremely difficult circumstances, healthcare workers are continuing to raise concerns regarding workplace conditions which are causing critical frontline workers to lose confidence in the capacity of their places of work to be COVID-19 safe environments;
- We amplify these concerns with regard to the realities of healthcare workers and their experiences during this pandemic which have included, amongst other factors, on-going inconsistencies in accessing Personal Protective Equipment, placing undue risk and strain on frontline health care workers who predominately are women.
- We further continue to reiterate the low representation of women in policy making position in the healthcare sector in in the COVID-19 response architecture. Women do not drive the sector nor hold critical mass in decision-making positions which ultimately affect the healthcare force dominated by women on the ground.
- Furthermore, we raise concerns on staffing shortages, in non-metropolitan provinces, created though the implications of healthcare workers who understandably have to go into quarantine and self-isolation. These shortages directly compromise the levels and quality of service provision to the public in particular a direct negative impact on maternal and infant health care which is already under strain.
Underscoring once more that ultimately the negative fallout of COVID-19 management in the healthcare sector has a direct correlation to women’s and girls’ lives and rights as women constitute the majority of the health-seeking public.
Critical Emerging Issues
Increase of Gender Based Violence and Violence Against Women and Girls
Our networks have recorded a spike in reported incidents of GBV and VAWG in the past 10 day period. Our referral system has been actively supporting the reporting of several cases through our networks. We also note with concern the heinous instances of Violence Against Women and Girls reported in the public media. We continue to reiterate the need to strengthen the national state responsiveness mechanisms to prevent and respond timeously to GBV.
We commend the efforts to strengthen access to mental health care support to COVID-19 patients by the Ministry of Health and Child Care through 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 urge the application of the same measures towards households and families. We call for:
- Innovation and direct resourcing of the sector to enable women in full diversity to easily access support.
- Prioritisation of mental health wellness and psychological support in the time of COVID-19.
- Government agencies, Ministry of Health and Child Care, the Zimbabwe Republic Police Victim Friendly Unit (VFU), Social Welfare Department, and Civil Society Organisations to prioritise awareness-raising and support services for survivors of Gender-Based Violence in the time of COVID-19.
- Government to create and facilitate a stronger solid community base for the welfare and protection of women and children, during emergency situations and recovery planning.
We reinforce our recommendations to stakeholders, CSOs and Government of Zimbabwe to urgently to implement a dedicated ring-fenced budget to increase domestic funding for national GBV response.
Cold chain development for vaccine delivery
Amidst growing euphoria regarding the progression of vaccine candidates, we continue to highlight studies in the global logistics chain management systems by DHL and McKinsey which seek to raise awareness and support progressive actions by Governments in anticipation of COVID-19 vaccine global roll-out, towards the end of 2020 into mid-2021. The study notes that currently, more than 250 vaccines across seven platforms are being developed and trialed around the world. It further notes that as COVID-19 vaccines have leapfrogged development phases, stringent temperature requirements (up to -80°C) are likely to be imposed for certain vaccines to ensure that their efficacy is maintained during transportation and warehousing.
Currently the global cold supply chain management system conventionally distributes vaccines at -2 to –8°C. The report strongly urges that “To respond effectively to the next public health crisis, governments need to start putting strategies and structures in place today, rather than relying on reactive, ad hoc measures when the crisis hits.”
- We therefore urge the Government of Zimbabwe that during the restructuring of the health sector and the on-going Inter Ministerial Team on COVID-19 readiness for vaccines distribution in Zimbabwe is practically planned for and invested in necessary.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe