606 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 24th of November 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 133 747 after 40 new cases all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 9 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate data as at 15:00hrs on 23 November 2021, 25 hospitalised cases: 1 New Admissions, 1 Asymptomatic cases, 16 mild-to-moderate cases, 2 severe cases and 6 cases in Intensive Care Units. A total of 22 397 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 3 718 776. A total of 9 757 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 2 767 243. Active cases go up to 527. The total number of recoveries went up to 128 517 increasing by 23 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 96%. The death toll remains at 4 703 as no new deaths were recorded.
Critical Emerging Issue
Ending Violence Against women during COVID-19
Today, 25th November 2021, kicks off the campaign and commemorations of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. We highlight that research evidence has shown that in Zimbabwe, 1 in 3 women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence and about 1 in 4 women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. We reiterate that the situation has since worsened due to COVID-19 as socio-economic effects of the pandemic, coupled with living in the same space for a continued period of time increasing the number of GBV cases. The mandatory lockdowns have seen many women and girls being trapped with their abusers and not knowing where to go or how to get help during the lockdown. With COVID-19 still a reality and the threats of GBV on the lives of women and girls still ravaging,
- We call for Government to prioritize the continuity of GBV services with GBV service providers continuously being recognised as essential workers, integration of GBV services as well as information vital in GBV and COVID-19 response to end violence against women.
COVID-19 Response in 2022 National Budget
We note the 2022 National Budget presented today and we note some overviews of the budget. We commend the budget allocation of 14.9% at ZWL$117.7 billion, a notable stride by Government to fulfil the Abuja Declaration which seeks to strengthen Africa’s health systems by mandating Governments to allocate 15% of their government budgets to health. We note that the Government of Zimbabwe has received an additional 60 000 Sino pharm vaccines from the Government of Mauritius on the 24th of November, to which we thank and appreciate the solidarity and support of Government and People of Mauritius for the solidarity in combating COVID-19. We also further, that the Government position on vaccine stocks was that Zimbabwe had a full complement of vaccines including injections for the same. We then note with concern in the National Budget that USD$77 million of the International Monetary Fund SDR’s are allocated by Government to support the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
- We urge the Government of Zimbabwe to be fully accountable and transparency on the financing of COVID-19 response and COVID-19 vaccine procurement directly.
- We call for accountability and responsiveness specifically to women and communities who were due to be front and centre of the SDR release by the IMF as part of the global calls to support
- equality and equity in the post COVID-19 recovery.
Safety of COVID-19 vaccines for use by pregnant women and nursing mothers
We note with concern the latest guidance issued by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ), on COVID-19 vaccination of pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. The guidance indicates that clinical information on currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines in Zimbabwe do not include indication for use by pregnant women and nursing mothers. Summarily, in our own interpretation, the guidance seems to suggest that women belonging to this special group and desiring to get vaccinated, should do so at their own peril and from an informed decision. This confirms our fears and concerns which we have continuously raised on the safety of vaccines in pregnant women and nursing mothers, amidst varying conflicting advice from medical experts. In addition, we fear that we may be witnessing another devastating emerging gender divide in the global COVID-19 response and equality in access to health services.
- We urge a robust awareness-raising and women-centred information dissemination campaign to communities especially targeting remote, rural, marginalized and hard to reach areas
- We urge Government, health institutions and the world over, to expedite clinical researches on safe COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Increasing Number of Escapees from Quarantine Centres
We are concerned with reports from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) regarding the increased number of persons escaping from quarantine centres. We note that this is a notable weakness in infection control measures, especially against the background of a policy position that ‘every person traveling into Zimbabwe and not able to present a valid COVID-19 PCR tests at ports of entry shall be subjected to enter quarantine for 10 days at their own expense.’
- We therefore call for consideration of drivers of such escapes, with one significant factor being the costs of quarantine versus the conditions of the quarantine centres themselves.
- We urge Government to revise the costs of quarantine centres
- We urge Government to ensure the best living conditions at quarantine centres and for quarantine centres to have their status revoked if they are found to be falling short of maintaining their respective standards.
- In addition, we further call for a review of travel regulations in line with new international travel standards and guidelines which dictate that if travelling persons present valid full vaccination certificates, they may enter without PCR tests and vice versa.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe