298 days of the COVID Lockdown, and as at 20 January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 29 408, after 733 new cases were reported. All are local cases, of which 242 cases are from Harare alone. Manicaland has the second highest new case tally of 112 cases. We note that the Harare Hospitalisations rate on the 19 January 2021 has gone down to 257 hospitalised cases, 181 mild to moderate cases, 56 severe cases and 20 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases, have gone down to 9 276 cases after 1 143 new recoveries were recorded.
This brings the total number of recoveries to 19 253. The recovery rate accordingly continues to rise to 65.5%. The death toll has risen to 879, after 54 new deaths were recorded. We continue to await the full hospitalization rate with percentages and full provincial disaggregation.
The 16th day of the 2nd hard lockdown and we underscore the need for the prioritization of women’s access to social safety nets during COVID-19 and the hard lockdown. We continue to amplify our concern that the majority of women in Zimbabwe and women-led households are facing the biggest impacts in food security, income loss, and care-giving burdens. We therefore urge Government to expand social safety nets and offset the economic impacts for COVID-19 and the subsequent hard lockdown.
Critical Emerging Issue
Compliance with the lockdown and COVID-19 containment regulations
Despite an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country, we continue to witness communities disregarding the lockdown and COVID-19 health guidelines. This is particularly so in areas such Chinhoyi, where we received reports of some bottle stores operating even beyond the 3pm closing time. In Kwekwe, there have been reports that the majority members of the public in residential areas continue to move about without any face-masks and in total defiance of the movement restrictions. This is distressing given the current COVID-19 situation in the country. We commend the Zimbabwe Republic Police for moving swiftly in other areas to ensure strict enforcement of the lockdown.
- We continue to urge communities to exercise care and caution, by ensuring observance of public health guidelines and safety protocols which minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Exorbitant costs of COVID-19 care
We highlight reports regarding the costs of COVID-19 care. Against a background where public hospitals are barely attending to citizens, where there are alleged reports of citizens with COVID-19 symptoms being turned away from public health institutions but deteriorating and allegedly dying afterwards, citizens are faced with nothing more than home-based care.
We decry the resultant privatisation of healthcare as a result of disinvestment in the public health care sector by the state.
We continue to raise issue with the policy of outsourcing treatment of COVID-19 to home-based care buy holding onto rigid arguments that the majority of COVID-19 cases do not require hospitalisations, and continuing arguments that hospitalisation rates are low and bed capacity is not overwhelmed, yet patients need real support. Nonetheless, we note that in this vacuum, public hospitals are essentially not available and as a result placing citizen on the path to private hospitals. However, there is a crisis as the private healthcare sector is charging exorbitant fees that in our view are unethical in this time of crisis.
We highlight the example of the Capital City, Harare, which has a public hospital ICU bed capacity of 30 ICU beds. Hospitals in the capital city such as Health Point, Arundel, St Anne’s are charging between US$2 000 and US$5 000 based on the care required. We amplify the public outrage at the costs being charged for admission at an average of US$3 500 for admission. Deposits for care are also being required with doctors in some instances charging US$1 000, prior to other costs being added. Some hospitals require deposits of up to US$5 000 prior to admission in ICU.
Other hospitals and doctors are now offering house calls for asymptomatic and moderately symptomatic patients as well as patients with underlying conditions who need close monitoring.
- We call for the intervention of the policy makers in the regulation of costs of access to healthcare
- We call for a stronger approach to develop an integrated healthcare sector where the line between private health care and public healthcare are not as rigid and prohibitive to securing the right to health for citizens.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe