503 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 13th of August 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 119 508 after 754 new cases, all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Matebeleland South with 130 cases. We note the general nature of the hotspot update which did not give hotspot specific data but reported on the general downward trend of new infections due to containment measures.
We note that the Hospitalisation rate as of 15:00hrs on 12 August 2021 was 539 hospitalised cases: 62 new admissions, 144 asymptomatic cases, 268 mild-to-moderate cases, 100 severe cases and 27 cases in Intensive Care Units. (Wilkins, Providence, Arundel, BS Leon, West End, St Anne’s and Montague did not report).
Active cases went down to 19 300. The total number of recoveries went up to 96 135 increasing by 1 210 recoveries. The recovery rate further, marginally goes up to 80% from 79%. A total of 46 728 people received their 1st dose of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 2 013 340. A total of 47 986 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 1 179 687. The death toll went up to 4 073 after 26 new deaths were recorded.
We commend the citizens of Zimbabwe for their support and engagement with the government vaccination program which has now surpassed the 2 million mark for the 1st dose of the vaccine. In particular, we note the rapid progress towards the second million people accessing vaccination as part of the vaccine blitz. We call for the continuation and expansion of current efforts to meet vaccination targets and avoid the dangers of a largely unvaccinated population in the face of the potential fourth wave.
Critical Emerging Issues
Gender lens National COVID-19 response and recovery
We continue to urge gender equality and women’s representation in COVID-19 response structures. We emphasize that the impacts of COVID-19 have been neither gender blind nor gender-neutral, and that women have taken the hardest hit. Therefore, they should be allowed the space to be architects of their own solutions. We stress that women’s leadership, experiences and perspective are fundamental to the development of a gender-lens response and recovery. Participation and equal representation of women, as provided in Zimbabwe’s policy and legislative framework cannot be dispensed within the COVID-19 recovery path. Not only is this important for the achievement of gender equality and democracy, but gender machineries and women’s organizations also work closely with communities and therefore possess unapparelled knowledge and experience on the challenges, women are facing on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, they constitute the voice of authority when it comes to the design and implementation of gender lens recovery strategies. We therefore recommend:
- As a starting point, more women including women’s rights organisations should form part of the steering committees for COVID-19 response Coordination, such as the COVID-19 National Taskforce.
- The Zimbabwe Gender Commission, should push for accountability to equal gender representation and balance in such key Committees, as envisaged by sections 17 and 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
- Urgent publication of analysed sex and age disaggregated data by Government on the composition of the COVID-19 taskforce teams throughout the country.
- We continue to call for the inclusion of Gender Advisory Experts at all levels of the National COVID-19 Response Structures.
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 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 for 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 on 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 that are hesitant to approach healthcare centres due to concerns about the affordability of tests.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe