Zimbabwe Lockdown: Day 502 – WCoZ Situation Report

502 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 12th of August 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 118 754 after 800 new cases, all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Matebeleland North with 126 cases. The hotspots updates are as follows: Mashonaland West Province – Hurungwe (18), Kariba (4), Makonde (11), Mashonaland Central – Bindura (28), Mazowe (9). Mashonaland East – Marondera (25), Murehwa (23). Masvingo Province – Chiredzi (16), Masvingo (0), Midland Province – Kwekwe (11), Harare Province – Harare (101).

We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on 11 August 2021 was 512 hospitalised cases: 48 new admissions, 119 asymptomatic cases, 287 mild-to-moderate cases, 80 severe cases and 26 cases in Intensive Care Units. (Wilkins, Providence, Arundel, BS Leon, St Michael’s, West End, St Anne’s, and Montague did not report). 

Active cases went down to 19 782. The total number of recoveries went up to 94 925 increasing by 1 423 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 79%. A total of 33 392 people received their 1st dose of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 1 966 612. A total of 47 809 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 1 132 201. The death toll went up to 4 047 after 56 new deaths were recorded. 

Critical Emerging Issues

Prioritisation and protection of Health Care Workers and women in the Health Sector 

We highlight grave concerns for healthcare workers, especially those operating in the public sector, who are continuing to report for duty under extremely difficult circumstances. Healthcare workers are continuing to raise their concerns regarding poor workplace conditions which are causing critical frontline workers to lose confidence in the capacity of their places of work to be safe environments. Furthermore, we amplify the realities of healthcare workers and their implications on the quality of care being extended to patients in public hospitals. Healthcare workers continue to experience, amongst other factors, ongoing inconsistencies in accessing adequate PPE which create undue risk and strain on frontline health care workers who predominantly are women. 

We further continue to reiterate the low representation of women in policy-making positions in the healthcare sector regards to the COVID-19 response architecture. We further raise concerns on staffing shortages, in non-metropolitan provinces, created through the implications of healthcare workers who understandably have to go into quarantine and self-isolation after exposure to the virus. These shortages directly compromise the levels and quality of service provision to the health-seeking public and in particular have 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 and girls’ lives and rights as they constitute the majority of the health-seeking public. 

  • We call for prioritisation of the expedited production and distribution of substantive PPE to hospital and health care centres across the country.  
  • We call for a direct and effective transformation of the healthcare sector especially at provincial and district level so as to ensure effective women-leadership and representation which fulfils the constitutional standards of equal representation as provided in sections 17, 56, and 80 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. 
  • We urge extended support to public laboratories to increase the turn-around time on conducting of tests and reporting of the results. 
  • We call for the transparency of the funding mechanisms and budget expenditure of the 2020 National Budget directly at this halfway point of the year. 
  • We recommend widespread notification of free community testing to communities who are hesitant to approach healthcare centres due to concerns of affordability of tests.  

Outstanding issues

GBV and State Responsiveness to GBV during the lockdown

We continue to raise concerns over the increase in GBV cases in Zimbabwe. We highlight local evidence regarding the rise of Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) is continues unabated and that access to services and modes of delivery of services for victims/survivors of this type of violence are limited in real terms and are largely deprioritised within the criminal justice system. 

Further, our own experience in Zimbabwe has shown that the lockdown has to an extent exacerbated known drivers of intimate partner violence (IPV) and domestic violence such as increased stress at the household level, as well as lockdowns and limits on travel making it harder for women and girls to escape abuse and access support. 

Reports also indicate that regular health, psychosocial and safe-house services are being overwhelmed, while traditional walk-in services are becoming harder to access or are not operating.

Due to travel bans and other lockdown measures, access to critical services such as clinical management of rape, healthcare services for survivors of violence in the home or family, sexual and reproductive healthcare, as well as mental health and psychosocial support, have been interrupted. In certain instances, this has resulted in unplanned or forced pregnancies, unsafe abortions, inadequate prenatal and post-natal care for pregnant and lactating women increase in STIs including HIV, self-harm and suicide. 

Our monitoring continues to reveal that survivors are facing challenges accessing services at hospitals. We note that these challenges are compounded against social factors that already militate against the reporting of gender-based violence and in particular sexual gender-based violence.

  • We therefore recommend prioritisation of access to GBV especially SGBV services in public hospitals, at provincial land district levels and at other local clinics.
  • We urge 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 especially in this time of COVID-19.
  • We call upon 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 implement a dedicated ring-fenced budget to increase domestic funding for national GBV response.
  • We continue to call for expanded access to information on GBV services, including publicizing hotlines, tollfree lines and data base of local public health facilities where women and girls can receive compassionate and sensitive care. We recommend that this information be integrated into the national COVID-19 response messaging. 
  • We call for Government to protect the girl child from rape, sexual exploitation, child marriages and forced marriages during COVID-19.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)

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