314 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 5 February 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases increased to 34 331 after 160 new cases were reported. All are local cases, of which the highest case tally was recorded in Bulawayo at 41 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate on the 4th of February 2021 went down to 174 hospitalised cases, 13 asymptomatic, 91 mild to moderate cases, 58 severe cases and 12 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down notably to 4 883 as the total number of recoveries went up to 28 145 following a continued increase in recoveries by 386 recoveries. The recovery rate continues to increase, with the latest being 82%. The death toll has risen to 1 303 after 15 new deaths were recorded.
The 30th day of the 2nd hard lockdown and whilst we note repeated statements from Government that vaccines will be free in Zimbabwe, this does not fully address questions of access. We are concerned about the ability of vulnerable groups to access supplies. What are the factors determining vulnerability in COVID-19 vaccinations? We remain concerned that the queue to accessing vaccines will be grossly inequitable if not clearly spelt out. We are concerned about immigrants, refugees, prisoners, persons and families living on the street, persons with disabilities. We are concerned about the poor and indigent communities.
- We call for specifics on groups and timelines for access to vaccines.
- We further call for free access to vaccines to be maintained both in principle and in administrative processes.
Critical Emerging Issue
Funding modalities for COVID 19
We note with concern the discrepancies in the public domain regarding the funding by Treasury in securing COVID-19 vaccines. We note with concern the announcement by the Ministry of Finance on the 6th of February 2021 indicating that Government welcomes and appreciates the offer by the private sector to complement Government resource commitment in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and accordingly Government shared details where citizens and the private sector may make deposits towards this effort. This contrasts significantly with the announcement on the 31st of January 2021, wherein the Government indicated that it had managed to mobilise USD 100 million to support the procurement of 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccination to vaccinate 10 million people – approximately 60% of the Zimbabwean population – to meet herd immunity targets. The amount was reported to have been secured from the 2020 budget surplus and a reallocation of the 2021 National Budget Funds to support procurement of vaccines. However, we also note the remarks by the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Mangwiro who, in a Live interview on ZTN on the 4th of February 2021, remarked that Treasury was marshalling “about USD 25 million” to support the procurement of vaccines.
- We call upon government to clarify exactly how much Treasury is committing to spending and the exact amounts marshalled by development partners and the types of funding arrangements being entered into to support access to vaccines.
Subjecting non-COVAX vaccine candidates to national scientific scrutiny
We urge Government to activate the request to our National Vaccine Advisory Committee to evaluate and provide scientific-based recommendations on vaccines candidates beyond those being offered in the COVAX vaccines facility. In particular, the vaccines that are being donated are secured under bilateral arrangements which may include the Sputnik vaccines and the Sinopharm vaccine among other vaccine candidates.
Expansion, coordination and rapid response to violence against women and girls
We emphasize the need to step up vigilance and strengthening of the violence against women and girls’ national response systems.
We remain concerned by the persisting current weak state coordination and collaboration to ensure that violence against women and girls is funded by Treasury and responded to directly, expansively and rapidly by government.
- We urge Government to take tangible, measurable actions towards the oft-stated commitment to stopping violence against women and girls.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe