BY VANESSA GONYE / LORRAINE MUROMO
HEALTH experts yesterday expressed concern over the country’s state of preparedness in the event a third wave of COVID-19 hits the country, amid reports that most health institutions still do not have adequate infrastructure to cater for such an emergency.
On Sunday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pleaded with citizens to embrace the government-funded vaccination programme to enable the country to achieve herd immunity and contain the spread of the highly infectious respiratory disease.
Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctors Association president Shingai Nyaguse told NewsDay that there was need for more hospital beds and piped oxygen in preparation for any eventuality.
“While a lot of work was done in terms of infrastructure upgrades to facilities, several projects remain incomplete, like Ekusileni Hospital and several others countrywide,” Nyaguse said.
“There are still many facilities requiring to be fitted with piped oxygen which is the main treatment for COVID-19. Supply of adequate drugs and sundries remain a challenge in the public sector.”
Nyaguse added: “The issue of adequate staff to work at the COVID-19 units remains unresolved. So overall, there is still some work to be done if we are to improve outcomes. Zimbabwe currently has the highest case fatality rate in Sadc.”
Zimbabwe has to date recorded 1 503 deaths since March last year when the country recorded its first COVID-19 case.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo said: “Nothing much has been done by government. There is need for proper facilities and more to deal with the third wave. Health institutions are not fully equipped and there is need to increase the number of COVID-19 facilities. We do not see any activity pointing to government’s commitment in dealing with the pandemic. We cannot solely rely on vaccination. In South Africa, 3 000 health workers were inoculated, but they tested positive again to the virus within 28 days.”
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa weighed in, saying the country’s state of preparedness is worrisome.
“We are at the same level of preparedness, as you know we did not even construct a new hospital. Personal protective equipment (PPE), gloves, sanitisers and masks have gone down in terms of pricing on the international market and so we are now better off to purchase them. We have now also managed to rise above the fear of COVID-19,” he said.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike decried the high level of complacency by the public, especially in public transport which may lead to soaring numbers in terms of COVID-19 infections.
“We really need to have COVID-19 literacy programmes and involve the people so that communities become part of the COVID-19 literacy programmes. Very few people are still properly wearing face masks, there is very poor adherence. The issue of social distancing is also being poorly practised. The third wave may be a harsher variant compared to previous ones, meaning that a lot of people may die if we don’t put adequate mechanisms in place,” Rusike said.
On Sunday, chief co-ordinator of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Agnes Mahomva said: “It is not about what government should do to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The disease is not going away because of laid out government policies, but it largely depends on community responsibility.”
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