BY LORRAINE MUROMO
DOCTORS in private practice say they are ready to support the government in its fight against COVID-19, but have urged the State to move with speed to utilise all dormant council clinics in order to increase COVID-19 bedding facilities in the country.
Zimbabwe has struggled to cope with the rise in new cases in recent weeks, which has also seen a fall in the recovery rate.
COVID-19 cases have gone past 22 000 cases and 520 deaths, and health experts predict the figures, already giving a strain on the country’s health institutions, will double in the next coming weeks.
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa said private doctors were ready to support government in a collective war against the virus.
“All that was needed was for the government to urgently open all council-run hospitals as COVID-19 testing centres,” Marisa said.
“We cannot ascertain the effectiveness of home remedies as they have not been proven yet. People are just doing what they can to survive. What we urge the government as doctors is to move in with speed to open up more council clinics for COVID-19 testing. We are in trouble.”
He added: “We already have infrastructure of over 20 polyclinics that are grossly underutilised. As doctors, we are wondering why government is not making use of dysfunctional clinics while people are dying in numbers using home remedies than proper medical treatment.
“We have the urgent need for more staff, we have more unemployed doctors and trained aides that the government should be currently taking them on board as a temporary measure even if it means turning to donors to pay their salaries.”
Marisa said the private sector was ready to assist the public health sector to fight against the virus.
“As private medical practitioners, we are more than willing to assist with medical expertise but what we are waiting for is infrastructure from government and all required consumables,” he said.
“We are willing to work, we are not afraid of COVID-19, but what we call for is decentralization of testing and treatment, we have thousands of patients with nowhere to go. Hospitals such as Wilkins are full.”
There have been reports of patients dying before accessing medical help because of inadequate bedding facilities in the country.
Some citizens have also flooded social media with requests to hire ventilators, oxygen and other consumables for their sick relative for whatever cost.
Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctors Association president Shingai Nyaguse said government needed to put in place measures to accommodate the staff.
“Government needs to sort out the staffing issue as soon as possible. This is one of the bottlenecks in availing more beds,” Nyaguse said.
“The private sector should come together and assist public sector hospitals in their areas of need. We need each other right now.”
Meanwhile, Nyaguse bemoaned the situation where the majority of Zimbabweans have been swindled by scammers claiming to provide ventilator services and also certified nurses as desperation measures to fight the disease were on the rise.
She said information gaps had led to public falling for fake therapies.