342 days of the COVID-19 lockdown, and as of 5 March 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases has increased to 36 284, after 25 new cases were reported, all cases are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 12 cases. We note that the hospitalisation rate as of 1500hrs on the 4th of March 2021 went down to 129 hospitalised cases, 65 asymptomatic cases, 39 mild to moderate cases, 21 severe cases and 4 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases went down to 1 005 as the total number of recoveries went up to 33 759, increasing by 127 recoveries. The recovery rate now stands at 92.8%. A total of 557 frontline workers were vaccinated, bringing the cumulative number of the vaccinated to 31 235. The death toll now stands at 1 484 after 1 new death was recorded.
We highlight, once more, the limited engagement and awareness within both the medical sector and the Government on “long COVID”. In light of the over thirty thousand people who have recovered from COVID-19 in the country, we are yet to seek see efforts to trace, monitor and provide support to patients who may be classified as “long COVID” sufferers. This is in contrast to international best practise and advice from the WHO. We urge attention to the needs of long COVID patients urgently.
Critical emerging issue
Accountability for COVID-19 funding
We note our ongoing concern regarding the weak accountability for COVID-19 funds in Zimbabwe. We note with alarm the recent disclosure that Treasury has entered into a debt agreement with the Arab Economic bank for USD 10 million to respond to COVID-19. This is untenable.
Whilst we are fully aware that the response has been financed by a mix of direct government budgetary expenditure, donations from development partners, the private sector and communities. We remain concerned at the accountability measures provided by all who contributed to the national response to COVID-19.
We have raised repeatedly discrepancies in the public domain regarding the funding by Treasury to COVID-19 research, response and vaccines.
We remain alarmed that despite the best efforts of individual Members of Parliament and some Committee of Parliament, to seek clarifications on Treasury funds, the response remain grossly inadequate and dismal.
- A comprehensive public accounting of the state funding support towards the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- A complete accounting for the support provided by international partners.
- A thorough report on the expenditure of the contribution by the private sector, communities and individuals.
- We call for the President of Zimbabwe to institute a Commission of Enquiry into COVID-19 Funds.
Mental health support to communities
Noting the strain of COVID-19 and the trauma associated with COVID-19 in communities and as exacerbated by the implications of the subsequent lockdowns on citizens, especially COVID-19 patients and frontline workers.
We further note that the current relaxation of lockdown continues to come with no ameliorative measures for individuals or communities. We continue to note the weak responsiveness to the social crisis that threatens to have deep-seated long-term impacts on individuals and communities.
We highlight the individual and community trauma caused by the burden of home-based care under the difficulties of the lockdown and accordingly.
- We urge prioritisation of strengthening systems for basic psychological support and the screening of persons showing strain and signs of mental health challenges.
- We further emphasize the need to ensure that such services are easily accessible to communities in both urban and rural communities.
We continue to note a higher number of active COVID-19 cases which are currently being managed at home, as compared to the hospitalised cases. We therefore highlight our concerns on home-based care and lack of the support systems to assist such households. Reports from our networks indicate the non-operation of isolation centres in areas such as Kwekwe. Given these challenges, we reiterate the need for the Ministry of Health and Child Care to officially communicate and publicize information regarding the state of isolation centres and hospitals throughout all Provinces and Districts of Zimbabwe.
- We urge Government to introduce and implement measures to support home-based care givers and primary care-givers in order to ease their burden and to minimize further risk of transmission.
- We urge up-scaling efforts on safe isolation centres which are not overcrowded which also cater for the needs and rights.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe