The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights) has called on government to decentralize the management of the Corona Virus epidemic by building the capacity of health institutions countrywide.
Currently, the health facilities that have been earmarked for refurbishment to be able to handle Covid-19 cases are in Bulawayo and Harare, and they are not yet ready, leaving the country at high risk of an unmitigated outbreak.
According to a Zimrights countrywide survey, some public health institutions have shut down, while some are turning away patients with Covid-19 symptoms with the explanation that they do not have the capacity to handle the disease.
“Some observations have shown that health personnel are being forced to operate with inadequate tools and equipment like gloves and surgical masks. More worrying is government’s continued insistence that they have everything ready to contain the epidemic, yet the situation on the ground tells a different story,” reads part of the Zimrights statement.
“Apart from not doing anything to decentralize the management of the disease, government has not shown enough commitment to deal with the continued public activity and to ensure public safety.”
While paying tribute to companies and organizations that have since scaled down operations and those that have put in place measures to control the spread of the disease, Zimrights noted that government has not played its part in thoroughly educating the citizens on the right way to deal with the outbreak.
“Even more disturbing is the lack of effort by government to deal with inter-community movement.
It is with no doubt that the spread of contagious diseases like Covid-19 is catalysed by the movement of people, and as such, there must be effective measures to deal with that.”
Throughout the week, there has been sad sights of queues for mealie-meal, for water at boreholes, or for Zupco buses, and while police and municipal authorities have been unleashed, albeit without enough protecting, their actions have largely been inadequate and to some extent, in breach of basic human rights as there have been incidences of beatings.
In its statement, the grassroots-based Zimrights whose membership is over 200,000, called for a cocktail of interventions.
“Government and local authorities should immediately deploy resources to ensure continued supply of running water. Where it is not possible, carefully monitored water tanks can be placed on street corners to limit the number of people crowding for water at boreholes.”
In addition, Zimrights called on government should set up Covid-19 testing platforms and deploy disinfectants to spray vehicles at tollgates and major boundaries.
“Government should ensure availability of all basic commodities to eliminate unnecessary crowding due to queues”