BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
ZIMBABWE is on edge as the Indian COVID-19 variant spreads in seven African countries, among them neighbouring South Africa, with senior government officials pleading with citizens to observe laid down safety regulations and limit unnecessary movements and gatherings.
South Africa has recorded four cases of the Indian variant which spreads faster especially in densely-populated areas.
The variant known as B.1.617 has caused mayhem in India, killing over 4 000 per day.
The Asian country is grappling to secure enough oxygen tanks as well as accommodate the many patients that flood health facilities on a daily basis.
Zimbabwe, with its collapsed health delivery system, also faces the spectre of a third wave.
Kenya, one of the African countries to record the Indian variant, has 20 cases.
Health deputy minister John Mangwiro expressed concern over the public’s disregard of the World Health Organisation’s prescribed safety protocols which include wearing of masks, regular sanitisation of hands and social distancing.
“People are behaving as though COVID-19 is gone and many scoff at threats of a third wave, but this is very real. The third wave will come,” he said.
Mangwiro, who was assessing health facilities in Bulawayo, said complacency had set in so much that COVID-19 regulations were no longer being observed with many people going around without masks. The deputy minister pleaded with citizens to remain vigilant and avoid spreading the virus.
Meanwhile, lack of real time data which enables efficient and effective monitoring and decision-making on fast-spreading diseases or disasters has become a crucial matter for Zimbabwe and other developing countries.
To address this critical area, the Health ministry in collaboration with its development partners has developed a comprehensive, health-centric and integrated national electronic health record system called Impilo for patient registration, management and evaluation, tracking, stock usage and tracking, and data aggregation, validation and analysis.
Impilo will be deployed at five central hospitals, seven provincial hospitals, 30 district hospitals and 384 clinics across the country. This electronic health record system was developed by a Zimbabwean technical team and is licensed under the Health ministry.
The system helps health workers in following clinical protocols for priority health services.