Zim’s frontline medical practitioners demand protection over exposure to coronavirus and upgrading of hospitals

ZIMBABWEAN doctors have asked government to provide them and other
frontline medical practitioners with personal protective equipment
(PPE) and to adequately equip public hospitals to protect them from
the deadly coronavirus as they execute their duties and help slow the
spread of the epidemic.

In an application filed on Sunday 5 April 2020, the doctors
represented by Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights
(ZADHR) protested that they are at risk of contracting coronavirus
(COVID-19) because government had not put in place measures to ensure
that health practitioners across the country, who include nurses,
nurse aides and pharmacists among others are adequately protected
against the deadly epidemic.
Zimbabwe has recorded 10 positive cases of coronavirus with one
person, a prominent broadcaster, having died after contracting the
disease.

Government, ZADHR argued, had not put in place adequate measures to
ensure the screening and testing of personnel driving public transport
provided by the state-run Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO)
and other public service buses transporting authorised persons to and
from work and to screen and test public servants and security services
who continue to work during the 21-day national lockdown.
This, ZADHR said, creates potential exposure and creates a reasonable
apprehension among doctors, who use the only available form of public
transport that they will contract COVID-19 on their way to and from
work as a result of the absence of screening and testing of personnel
authorised to drive the public transport vehicles.

Government, ZADHR charged, has not put in place measures to ensure a
robust screening and testing of people for coronavirus symptoms across
the country, which puts its members at risk of contracting the disease
as they also reside with members of the public.

The doctors’ representative body complained against the lack of
adequate measures to ensure the screening, testing and quarantining of
persons entering Zimbabwe from the various ports of entry or the
tracing of some Zimbabweans who reportedly arrived from South Africa
into Zimbabwe on the eve of the South African lockdown, thus seriously
exposing Zimbabweans to the risk of contracting coronavirus.

ZADHR, which is represented by Andrew Makoni of Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights, said more than 1 500 doctors were working in Zimbabwean
hospitals across the country without adequate PPE including some
specialists, nurses, nurse aides, technicians, pharmacists and other
health practitioners.

ZADHR has listed Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo, Finance
and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube and Transport and
Economic Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza as respondents.

The doctors representative body, which said its members and other
medical practitioners bore the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic and
are vulnerable to contracting it, bemoaned the dire shortage of
appropriate and equipment such as ventilators, oxygen tanks, Hazmat
suits, N95 masks and properly manned quarantine and isolation
facilities in the country, which ideally must be available in every
district hospital.

ZADHR disclosed that those facilities were only available in Harare
and Bulawayo leaving citizens outside these two centres at the risk of
failing to timeously access healthcare.
ZADHR said the 1 500 doctors operating in Zimbabwe will require an
average of at least three N95 masks per day, which translates to 4 500
masks per day for them.

The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.