Zim COVID-19 patients ‘dying at home’

RENOWNED Zimbabwean medical doctor Norman Matara recently told BBC World Service that the southern African country had witnessed a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 patients dying at home after failing to make it to hospital.

BY STAFF REPORTER

“We are witnessing more cases of people diagnosed with COVID-19 after a post-mortem has been done. So, from the number of people who have died, most of them are people who are dying at home,” Matara, who is secretary for the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, said.

“People are being forced right now to go outside their houses to look for money so they can feed their families. They are also being forced to go out and look for clean water. So social distancing is not practical, and that is why we are seeing cases rise.”

Nurses and doctors in Zimbabwe have been on strike since last month due to lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other concerns.

“The healthcare system is in tatters at the moment. Just last week, we witnessed seven babies die out of eight deliveries, because there were no nurses to monitor women giving birth,” Matara added.

Coronavirus cases in Africa have now passed the one million mark, with Zimbabwe’s cases shooting to 4 575 confirmed cases and 102 deaths at the weekend.

Meanwhile, supporters of the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance based in the United Kingdom (UK) have launched a fundraising campaign to secure equipment for health facilities handling COVID-19 patients in Zimbabwe.

The supporters are also bankrolling initiatives to buy PPE for vulnerable health workers in the country’s public hospitals.

Birmingham MDC Alliance branch chairperson Izwi Muyambi confirmed the development.

“Zimbabweans in the UK have already started contributing towards that cause and our party leader Chamisa is heading the co-ordination of the campaign,” he said.

“We will now extend the appeal to churches and local UK citizens to contribute to the MDC Alliance account (UK). We will use our party leadership to facilitate any resources and PPE procured from companies in Zimbabwe as well.”

He revealed that health facilities to benefit from the project would be identified by the opposition party’s secretary for health, Henry Madzorera.

“We want to buy things like ventilators for Zimbabwean hospitals as well as PPE for doctors and nurses,” Muyambi said.

“At the moment, it is still at a small-scale, but we hope to widen the appeal. We have already sourced PPE for Gweru City Council. That was our first trial scheme, but we remain guided by the party.”

Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda urged Zimbabweans in the diaspora to support the cause.

“President Chamisa and the party’s UK province are very determined to see our health facilities in the country equipped with world-class equipment.

“There is no need for one more death in our hospitals because of lack of equipment to help COVD-19 patients. That is the background to the project and all diasporans are urged to support the noble cause.”

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