By Nhau Mangirazi
The upsurge of COVID 19 local infections is worrisome to everyone as right to health remains at stake after festive season.
What compounds the global pandemic is how it has claimed several thousand deaths mostly in developed countries whose medical prowess does not match mostly underdeveloped nations including Zimbabwe.
Worse still for Hurungwe district, within Mashonaland West that has poor outlying health facilities affected by long distancing, lack of water, availability of reliable and accurate information is a nightmare. Recently, spread of accurate information became better ammunition to empower communities as the spread of COVID- 19 like elsewhere is a thorn in the flesh.
Another sad reality is that Hurungwe faces water challenges where some schools have no boreholes while some villages survive on water from unprotected sources.
Ironically, COVID- 19 infections can be reduced through regular washing of hands where water becomes handy.
In their bid to fight the double edge sword of misinformation, Hurungwe health promotion officer Komborero Gotoza said there was need to help out.
Gotoza said, ‘‘Travelling around communities proved that something was amiss during COVID- 19 global crisis. Some community members perceived the reopening of businesses and schools as the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is renewed increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country. People are becoming more and more complacent thinking that is over, yet it is not. Therefore there was need for increased awareness more than ever before,’’
The activity supported risk communication and community engagement pillar of the health ministry national response plan.
It covered the district 26 rural wards and Karoi town’s ten wards through roving and fixed road shows.
Africare Zimbabwe, a local Non-Government Organization, implementing partner under UNICEF is working with various Government departments came to rural communities bridging gap through awareness.
Africare Zimbabwe, Communications and Gender assistant officer Nyemudzai Kakore said their efforts are aimed at strengthening government response to COVID-19 pandemic.
Kakore added that they are working on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and behavior change through the stipulated World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
She said, ‘‘In terms of COVID-19 response, hand-washing is at the center and our efforts are directed towards making sure that water is available to the vulnerable in terms of development working with District Development Fund (DDF) in rehabilitating existing water points in Zvimba and Hurungwe districts. So far, we have rehabilitated 31 existing boreholes (21 for Hurungwe District and 10 for Zvimba District,’’
The organization looks forward to rehabilitate 100 more boreholes in these two districts.
‘‘Africare intensified awareness campaigns through roadshows which are helping to increase awareness. This was done as we want our communities to know that COVID-19 is still with us and we are all at risk of contracting it so let us be vigilant and not take chances. We must save lives,’’ she said.
Gotoza concurred, ‘‘As more COVID-19 cases are being reported in Mashonaland West and there are noted gaps in compliance with COVID-19 prevention measures there was need to hold awareness campaigns aimed at educating communities on COVID-19 preventative measures,’’
He added that the awareness campaigns had grassroots support from local political, religious and traditional leaders and community at large.
“Furthermore to ensure communities are well informed in reducing the rising infections, ministry of health and childcare with other government departments supported by Africare carried out awareness campaigns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus within Hurungwe District,’’ added Gotoza.
He said the awareness campaigns had political, traditional and church leaders.
Gotoza added, ‘‘They were engaged and they pledged their support in ensuring and promoting adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures. Community health club members which were formed in most of the rural wards will continuously provide health education to reinforce positive behaviors amongst their communities. They also understood that the risk of COVID-19 will rise due to increased traffic during the festive season. The community was warned against complacency during upcoming festive season,’’
In the outlying villages, health club members are bringing transformation.
Kakore added, ‘‘The club health members have become our permanent ambassadors, who through face to face interactions are spreading correct information that COVID 19 exists and has no cure. They conduct sensitization meetings separating truth from falsehoods,’’
In addition Hurungwe has two toll-free lines that have been set up to respond to COVID-19 in the district to empower communities.\