Coronavirus: Zimbabwe: A Covid-19 outbreak will devastate Zimbabwe which has several ongoing crises to deal with By Thandekile Moyo
Because the government is guilty of neglecting their mandate to provide public goods, they are going out of their way to hide information about the extent of infections in Zimbabwe. In their 40 years of power, Zimbabwe has ... let the health systems completely crumble and if Covid-19 hits Zimbabwe as badly as we fear, it will be entirely their fault.
We have a mealie-meal crisis in Zimbabwe.There has been a shortage of the staple food and thus the price of mealie-meal shot up from $40 to anywhere between $150 and $200 by December 2019. Whenever a shop receives a delivery of mealie-meal, a queue immediately forms and people jostle to buy. In these queues, there is absolutely no respect for personal space as people touch, rub against, lean on, push and shove each other for hours.
We have a transport crisis in Zimbabwe.The majority of Zimbabweans use public transport and most use ZUPCO buses, which charge a fraction of what minibus taxis charge. For these bus rides, people queue for hours and they carry more than 50 passengers per trip.
The other option for public transport users is tiny cars (second-hand Honda Fits imported from Japan), that operate as pirate taxis and ferry at least six passengers per trip instead of the 3-4 passengers they were designed for. Daring operators add two more passengers in the car boot to increase their load per trip to eight or nine passengers. In these little taxis, people sit on each other, cough on each other, sneeze into each other’s faces, touch each other and sweat on each other.
We have a water crisis in Zimbabwe.The majority of Zimbabweans in both rural and urban areas have no access to running water. We fetch water from rivers, boreholes and wherever else we can. In cities, people can go for days without water. The excuses by the government for failure to provide adequate water and sanitation services vary from shortage of chemicals, to lack of damning infrastructure, to drought. Lack of access to clean water cost thousands of Zimbabweans their lives during the cholera outbreak of 2018.
We have an unemployment crisis in Zimbabwe.Independent statisticians have put it at above 90%. Many Zimbabweans have resorted to vending and various forms of self-employment in the informal sector. We have markets that house in the same vicinity: hardware hubs, carpentry workshops, car washes and vegetable markets … our towns and cities seem to have long abandoned town planning as wherever you go, there is someone selling something on the pavements, in street corners and in flea markets.
These areas are overcrowded and have no “real” infrastructure, so many have no toilets and no running water. Food, clothes, car parts and whatever you can think of, are sold wherever, whenever by whoever.We have a Covid-19 crisis looming in Zimbabwe.At a personal level, Zimbabweans cannot do much to prevent contracting or spreading Covid-19. There is no chance that people will social distance while jostling for mealie-meal or in overcrowded buses. There is no chance that we can correctly, constantly and consistently wash our hands under running water. There is no chance, unless literally at gunpoint, that Zimbabweans living from hand to mouth, will stay at home.
What will we eat?At a national level, the situation is just as hopeless.We have a production crisis in Zimbabwe.As a country, we produce very little. Most of our groceries and clothes are imported. The closing of borders toMalayitshasand cross border traders will plunge the country into a serious shortage of basic commodities, from toiletries to food.
A lockdown will also be difficult to enforce as very few Zimbabweans have the capacity to buy food supplies for 21 days. Unless households are given food, it will be impractical to have a lockdown. People have to be able to leave the house every morning to hustle for money to buy food. Whatever most vendors make per day is for that night’s and the next day’s meals.
The Zimbabwean government knows and fears this, hence their failure to close our borders, as evidenced by the people that were still going in and out of the country even after announcement on 23 March 2020 that Zimbabwean borders have been closed; and to lockdown the country as South Africa has done. They also know that it would be political suicide to force a population on the brink of starvation to stay at home.
We have a health crisis in Zimbabwe.Zimbabwean doctors have been complaining about the incapacitation of hospitals for years now. In 2019, they went on strike for months explaining that because they were not earning decent salaries, they could not even afford to transport themselves to and from work, and to feed themselves and their families.
Central to their grievances, was the state of the hospitals and lack of equipment. The doctors explained that our hospitals are dilapidated and unequipped for the core business of treating patients. They said there were no surgical gloves in hospitals, no disinfectants, no drugs – nothing basically to help them do their jobs of treating the sick. They said they were frustrated and tired of going to work to preside over senseless, and preventable deaths due to hospitals’ incapacitation.
In response to their grievances, the government fired doctors en masse.Using the Zimbabwe ‘health system’: Real life experiencesIn January 2020r, I took my cousin to our local hospital and they refused to treat her because she did not have the $140 consultation fee. Her mother is a teacher and at the time earned $1,000, an amount that could only buy her a combination of 30 loaves of bread at $15 each ($450), 10kg of mealie-meal at $150 and 5kg of meat. There was no chance she would have $140 lying around for emergencies such as this one. We sourced the money and paid, only to be told there was no doctor available and she would have to return the next day, despite her case being an emergency.
The nurses, who had no idea what was wrong with her, even after consulting google and a textbook they had, told us it could be mumps and prescribed medication, but advised us that the hospital pharmacy was closed and we would have to find a private pharmacy. All this after paying an amount equivalent to 14% of her mother’s salary. They did not even have paracetamol.
This was how dire the situation was for hospitals, health personnel and patients prior to Covid-19 landing in Zimbabwe. Now that we are faced with the possibility of an outbreak, what chance does Zimbabwe have?We have already heard that doctors and nurses have gone on strike until they are given adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to deal with the virus. Wilkins Infectious Diseases hospital, Harare’s isolation centre was shut down, reportedly for renovations, on 27 March 2020. It is clear that our health sector is at present unable to handle the looming Covid-19 outbreak.Read more: Daily Maverick »
Iam_BrookeSmith Once again the people of Zimbabwe will have to pay a high price for the way their shameless leadership has failed them & dragged a once-functioning country deeper into the mud! Thanks to Mugabe, their PublicHealthSystem is already hopelessly dysfunctional! So racist. They know how to wash hands. Just tell them to buy soap.
many people wish bad things to happen to Zimbabwe,God's plan conquers that of a mortal They still need to recover the money Mugabe looted . 40 years of ruling. It's just criminal And the people let it happen. Incredible Fucking mind blowing Africa Devastating
SA government vs Covid-19: Five must-read stories on fighting the outbreakPresident Cyril Ramaphosa has urged citizens to pray amid the outbreak
Covid-19 cases now more than 900, and 'we fear it might rise': RamaphosaAddressing the media at the SA Reserve Bank following a virtual meeting of the G20, Ramaphosa said South Africa was the most affected country in Africa.
Coronapp is a new online platform for accessing accurate information about Covid-19 - The Mail & GuardianCoronapp, which was built by two UCT alumni over a weekend, is an attempt to combat misinformation about the Covid-19 outbreak in South Africa. Hi. Can you please let them know that the app is not functioning properly. When I click on the link to articles & videos it does nothing and when I click on the “Contact us” tab, it does nothing. Can u post a link to the app store to download.
Man meets newborn grandson through closed window because of Covid-19It shows her brother Míchéal cradling baby Faolán by the window, as the newborn met his grandfather for the first time.
Displaced by floods, Mamelodi victims now in fear of hunger during Covid-19 lockdownDozens of displaced Mamelodi flood victims have expressed fear and anxiety at the start of the national lockdown while they are still confined to community halls and churches without enough food and soap. These people are still not helped?😳😳😳😳😳
Africa has a small window to combat spread of Covid-19 – WHO’s Matshidiso MoetiAfrica still has a small window to contain the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus as most of the reported cases are still imported rather than local transmissions, says Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organisation’s Africa regional director There is nothing to celebrate here. Effective lockdown, quick testing and therapeutic interventions should help manage the curve. Developing countries will be the worst affected