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Zimbabwe Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube arrives at the Parliament of Zimbabwe to present the national annual budget, a few days after the introduction of a new currency in the country, in Harare, on November 14, 2019. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Health

Zim govt channels ZW$368m to Covid-19

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CABINET this week directed Treasury to urgently release ZW$368.2 million it had committed towards funding the enforcement of Level Four lockdown measures, as hospitals and government departments face shortages of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies.

BRIDGET MANANAVIRE

Zimbabwe is experiencing a third-wave spike in Covid-19 infections, with the government imposing national lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus including prohibiting gatherings, inter-city travel and imposing a 6pm to 6am curfew.

According to Tuesday’s post-cabinet briefing, there was a 107% increase in cases recorded during the week.

The worst affected provinces are Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Harare Metropolitan, Mashonaland East and the Midlands.

Reports from provinces to cabinet indicated massive shortages that might affect health institutions’ response to Covid-19.

“Shortage of some PPE (protective clothing); misinformation on vaccines about their alleged negative effects; and shortage of healthcare workers at some stations. Some district hospitals, such as Nyanga and Chipinge, require bulk oxygen tanks, while some like Zvimba in Mashonaland West, Plumtree and Gwanda in Matabeleland South require functional isolation centres.  Construction works at Mvurwi Hospital in Mashonaland Central province should be expeditiously completed to meet the current rising demand,” the cabinet briefing read.

“There are inadequate tools of trade such as desktops, laptops and vehicles including provision of adequate data to ensure compliance by civil servants to the 40% staff requirements and all efforts are being made to redress the situation.

“There is poor network connectivity for both staff reporting for duty and those working from home. Some provincial taskforces indicated that there is erratic fuel supply and inadequate vehicles for operations.”

This comes as the country has recorded 21% occupancy rate in Covid-19 hospital admissions.

Cabinet expressed concern on how funerals have become superspreaders in the provinces, mandating environmental health workers and the police to up their game in the enforcement of mandatory headcount limits.

“While village health workers are playing their part in educating villagers, we implore traditional leaders to be more visible and forceful in the enforcement of lockdown regulations.”

The government will also be dispatching inspectors to assess the preparedness of primary and secondary schools, particularly boarding schools, high-enrolment day schools and those with limited infrastructure, in controlling the spread of the coronavirus.

“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is working on modalities to enable a blend of face-to-face classroom learning, remote learning at home and in communities, as well as alternative learning platforms, such as e-learning, radio and television,” cabinet said in the briefing.

Cabinet also announced the dispatching of eight oxygen concentrators and 1 420 pulse oximeters to provincial and district hospitals, in support of the virtual hospitals concept.

“The ministry is in the process of procuring 3 000 oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters, thermometers, glucometers and blood pressure machines for the virtual hospital concept.  The nation is also informed that the distribution of the Sinopharm vaccine to provinces commenced on Friday 2 July 2021.

“Every province received 15 000 first doses except for Harare metropolitan, Manicaland and Mashonaland West provinces which received 20 000 doses each.
The nation is advised that a total of 2 000 000 doses procured from the People’s Republic of China are expected in the country by the 8th of July, 2021,” cabinet said.

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