By Staff Reporter
MUTARE: The novel coronavirus outbreak has been a wake-up call for government not to neglect public health institutions but to invest and constantly upgrade medical facilities, Manicaland provincial minister, Ellen Gwaradzimba has said.
The top government official admitted the deadly virus, which has seen Zimbabwe record 56 cases and four deaths so far, has taught authorities that public health facilities were critical and needed constant upgrades.
For years, Zimbabwe’s public health system has been crumbling with clinics and hospitals working with limited medical personnel and without equipment and drugs.
Senior government officials especially ministers and the presidium have looked the other way as they could afford to fly to better-equipped countries for treatment.
However, the lockdown imposed in most countries has made travel a challenge for senior ruling party politicians and officials.
This has forced the Zimbabwe government led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his co-vice presidents, Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi to move with speed to oversee the refurbishing and equipping of most neglected public clinics and hospitals.
Gwaradzimba said lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic were that the government should not neglect but invest in the public health sector.
“Lessons learnt or drawn from Covid-19 is that we should invest where our lives are. Health institutions are critical, they should never be neglected,” she said.
The minister was speaking at a community engagement press club meeting on Covid-19 convened by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) in the eastern border city.
“In the past, some people used to rely on foreign health facilities in countries such as South Africa, Dubai and India but this time around, those countries have closed their borders,” she said.
The minister said donors once relied on by the government to come in and offer health facilities due to failure by government, were no longer supporting Zimbabwe as they were also facing similar challenges of fighting the spread of Covid-19 in their countries of origin.
“They have closed their borders and no one is willing to donate because they are facing a similar challenges we are facing here in Zimbabwe.
“So we will all die here; rich, poor, or whatever,” she said.
The minister said as a country, authorities were compelled to ensure that health facilities were functional to provide care to citizens.
“We are forced all of us to make sure our health institutions are in good shape to take care of ourselves because this disease is invisible and you don’t know the day you will contract it. So, the best thing is to have good facilities in place,” she said.