Editorial Comment: More action from Health ministry on COVID-19

Health minister Obadiah Moyo

Editorial Comment

A DEADLY disease has virtually immobilised the world’s second largest economy, China, which has since December last year – despite its technological advances and expertise, has been at a loss on how to stop the malady called coronavirus (COVID-19). The virus has spread like a wild veld fire and has reached Africa where every government is fearful of its possible devastation given the state of their health delivery systems.

The disease has also reached the continent’s biggest economies, South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria. And that South Africa, a nation linked to almost every economy on the continent, has heightened the trepidation among African nations more so for Zimbabwe which shares a long and very porous border with it. This also comes at a time Zimbabwe has been enjoying strong relations with China, the epicentre of COVID-19, making the southern African country’s situation more than just precarious.

For all intents and purposes, under such circumstances, one would have thought that the Zimbabwe government — through the HealthMinistry, should have by now pulled all stops to make sure the disease does not pay us a visit in a crude way. But government can only go as far as the enterprise of the minister responsible. Unfortunately, ever since the virus reared its ugly head the Health minister has sounded so disinterested and divorced from the issue that little wonder the COVID-19 checkpoints at the country’s borders are hardly manned, and when they are, the under-resourced personnel there are so demotivated that they are as good as not being there at all.

Need we remind Health minister Obadiah Moyo that his ministry is so critical that it needs someone who is passionate about the well-being of citizens. It is quite sad to note that Moyo continues to exhibit the same uncaring attitude he displayed during the months-long doctors’ job action last year. It appears he has done little to nothing to mobilise funds to buy the required equipment and material for use by the health personnel. Moyo should be telling us that he is sleeping at the Treasury’s door looking for money to fund the country’s COVID-19 defences. If Treasury is not giving him any joy he should be telling the nation the dilemma he is facing.

But alas, the minister seems so incurious and apathetic that we wonder whether he really understands the gravity of this COVID-19 matter. We hope the minister will not wake up to the reality of the disease when people start dropping dead on the street if it so happens to reach the country.

South Africa, an economy much more resourced than Zimbabwe readily admits that a coronavirus outbreak will test its health system to the limit. The President of that country is taking the lead. Contrast the response of that country’s leadership with Moyo’s yawning statement about following guidelines from the World Health Organisation. Doctors groups say there are only two CT scanners in the public health sector to service the whole country.

This minister and this administration do not feel us with confidence