JUST as failing to plan equals planning to fail, failure to properly equip the country’s foot soldiers is an indisputable recipe for defeat. Zimbabwe, just like the rest of the world, is in the midst of a debilitating health crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s only those countries with well-oiled health systems and well-equipped frontline workers which will emerge victorious.
Government’s recent claim that it is recruiting additional nurses and doctors to fight the scourge is indeed commendable, but won’t achieve much as long as they are ill-equipped to hit the bull’s eye.
Nurses under the banner of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association have always raised the red flag over the unavailability of personal protective equipment (PPE).
As frontline soldiers in the fight against COVID-19, health workers deserve priority in terms of their protection and ensuring their general wellbeing.
Almost a year after the virus reached Zimbabwe’s borders, not much has been done to safeguard the country’s first line of defence.
It, therefore, makes sad reading that the government has the audacity to make grand speeches and empty promises and yet evidence abound that the health workers have been hard hit by COVID-19 and are dying in their numbers, lonely and with little or no support.
That hospitals are operating on skeleton staff because many staffers are either self-isolating at home or battling for their lives alongside the very patients they are supposed to be taking care of, is not in question.
PPE is not the only challenge, but even the employer liability insurance package meant to cushion them is still a pipe dream.
Depleted staff continues to manage the huge influx of patients and when they become infected, their families become their only source of solace. Once recovered, they troop back to duty and again put their lives on the line.
It takes a people’s government to assume responsibility and correct yester-year mistakes.
Hiding behind fake statements and pledges is not the solution and will only fuel disgruntlement among health workers. How can dissatisfied nurses and doctors with only surgical masks and sheets as gowns perform to their level best?
We challenge the authorities to bring sanity to the public health sector by equipping health workers with appropriate PPE as well as incentivise them to enable them to pursue the dictates of their Hippocratic oath without looking back.
The burden these brave men and women carry deserves genuine recognition.
Government should take the lead and take care of its health workers. Employing more workers while it is evident that current staff is not being well looked after flies in the face of basic rights of employees.
It is time to rectify years of bungling and do the right thing.
The adverse effects of COVID-19 cannot be hidden or downplayed.