guest column:Johannes Marisa
World War II saw the United States of America losing about 418 000 people who included both civilians and soldiers. That was a long war which started in 1939 and ended in 1945. Since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Washington on January 20, 2020, the US has lost at least 175 000 people from the stubborn virus. These deaths have occurred over a period of just seven months. This shows how virulent the virus is and the concomitant threats posed to humanity.
The notorious COVID-19 does not need us to flex our hands as there are no signs of early recession if morbidity and mortality are to be considered. The world continues to lose more than 6 000 people daily with daily incidences of above 200 000.
There was jubilation in Zimbabwe on social media some two days ago when it was reported that close to 1 800 people had just recovered. Many people held hopes that at least the virus was being put under control. However, we do not need to relax and assume that the virus has evaporated away.
It is at this time that COVID-19 is rearing its ugly face and as long as we remain with delayed test results, we remain in a precarious position. Many people have the virus now and are unwell, but cannot afford the US$65 to undergo the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
The health sector has not been performing well in our country because of a myriad of challenges which have not been resolved. We cannot boast of a robust health delivery system in this pandemic when public hospitals are almost dysfunctional, with nurses and senior doctors being on strike. Medical personnel have downed tools demanding personal protective equipment (PPE) in addition to reasonable salaries.
It is understandable that our national purse is shrunken at this juncture but engaging the clinicians is the most respectable way of finding lasting solutions. So many non-monetary benefits can be negotiated which include free duty for their cars, housing stands at least to incentivise them.
Government should move with speed on such critical issues which affect virtually everyone in this country. Patients are being turned away from clinics and hospitals, both child and maternal maternity are definitely going to skyrocket.
Surely, the medical sector needs everyone’s support at this crucial time. The private medical practitioners have become the first front-liners with their sterling efforts but I haven’t seen any corporate or organisation that extended a hand to this crucial sector with even a five-litre container of sanitiser or mere face masks.
Are these clinicians not the same people risking their lives trying to save the nation? I haven’t witnessed any assistance from even government circles to the private practitioners during this difficult time when they are standing tall to contain the virus. Let us be serious as a nation!
Support to the health sector should not only be expected to come from government. All of us are in Zimbabwe and patriotic as we are, we can make an input.
There are multi-million-dollar organisations or corporates in our country which have capacity to even donate all the required PPE.
There are many church organisations that have the capacity to source all the medical requirements for the country. Where are these organisations when the country is in need?
Where are the non-governmental organisations when the medical sector is on its knees? COVID-19 will surely affect you and me through something. You may be spared today but your old man in Mutoko or Chipinge may be hit one day and then fails to access medical care because the nearest hospital may be closed. Medical facilities have to be uplifted at this juncture. This is the best time to move together as a country.
I am astonished by many of these big organisations who are merely sending their staff for COVID-19 testing but without imagining the next steps especially if COVID-19 complications arise. So many employees have been left anxious and depressed after testing positive to COVID-19 and the stress becomes aggravated when one realises that hospitals are almost dysfunctional. What a pity! Where is your staff going to be attended to or admitted if they become serious if you are reluctant to assist in the resuscitation of the medical sector?
Very few people can afford private hospital admission but putting both our hands and heads together can strengthen one or two hospitals and the nation benefits in the long run. We need collaborative effort as we battle this notorious virus.
Let us not give ourselves false sense of health security. No-one should convince you COVID-19 is not around. Assume that the person standing next to you has severe COVID-19, hence serious public health measures to your chest. Prevention is better than cure. It is time all players come together for the benefit of our great nation!