Doctors plot to drag govt to court again


HUMAN rights doctors have threatened to approach the courts to seek urgent enforcement of a High Court order forcing government to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for health personnel at the forefront of fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

By Garikai Tunhira

Last week, the High Court ordered government to provide PPEs for frontline healthcare workers across the country to help prevent possible contraction while attending to patients.

This was after the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR), represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, filed an application demanding that government provides equipment to frontline healthcare workers.

But in a tweet yesterday, ZADHR said COVID-19 case number 27 had showed “why government must urgently implement the High Court ruling on the provision of PPE to health workers”.

“ZADHR will soon approach the courts to seek urgent enforcement of the High Court order,” the human rights doctors said.

Case number 27 is that of 82-year-old Gogo Nguni from Mhondoro, who succumbed to the virulent disease on Wednesday.

On April 16, she is said to have developed “a flu-like illness with chest symptoms”, received medical treatment and her condition improved.

Three days later, her condition deteriorated.

She was taken to West End Clinic on Monday and was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Tuesday before her passing on in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

In a COVID-19 update on Wednesday, the Health ministry said Gogo Nguni had “no history of recent travel or any known contact with a COVID-19 case”.

Questions have been raised over why she was taken to a private clinic when infectious diseases hospitals had already been set aside for people with COVID-19-like symptoms.

The human rights doctors said “special treatment of politically connected patients must not violate screening and infection control measures in hospitals and ports of entry.”

They said the continued exposure of healthcare workers to COVID-19 due to absence of PPE was in violation of the law, adding “health workers must be protected”.

“ZADHR calls upon all health institutions (private and public) to urgently institute measures that protect health workers from COVID-19,” the doctors said.