World Zimbabwe: the health system is in decline and the coronavirus is raging

23:05  02 august  2020
23:05  02 august  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

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Une employée prend la température du président du Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa à son arrivée aux funérailles de son ministre de l'Agriculture Perrance Shiri, décédé du Covid-19, le 31 juillet 2020 à Harare © Jekesai NJIKIZANA An employee takes the temperature of the President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa on his arrival at the funeral of his Minister of Agriculture Perrance Shiri, who died of Covid-19 , July 31, 2020 in Harare

The heartbreaking images sparked outrage in Zimbabwe: Seven stillborn infants wrapped in green cloths on hospital shelving. The dramatic consequence of an abandoned health system, on which the Covid-19 crisis has come to weigh a little more.

The night at the end of July during which these seven babies were stillborn at the Harare Public Hospital, eight women gave birth there. Only one child survived, said on Twitter Dr. Peter Magombeyi who published the shocking image.

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According to doctors, this incident is only the tip of the iceberg represented by the dramatic state of the public health sector, on the verge of collapse due to shortages of drugs and basic equipment and 'understaffed and underpaid staff.

"The situation is extremely worrying", told AFP the boss of the Association of Hospital Doctors of Zimbabwe, Norman Matara: "A courageous doctor only managed to take this photo, but it is a very small number, if we look at what is happening in other hospitals ".

According to experts, the roots of the health sector crisis lie in the country's wider economic collapse: hyperinflation is back, factories are closing, the official unemployment rate is exploding to around 90% and the majority of the population is sinking more and more into poverty, now struggling to afford a real meal.

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For the doctors, many lifeless births are due to the difficulties of access to care that pregnant women encounter.

The Covid-19 pandemic has further aggravated the situation. Nurses have been on a pearl strike across the country for months, demanding wage hikes and protective gear against the novel coronavirus. Doctors and interns have joined the movement.

- "Sense of Responsibility" -

And employees at work in public hospitals, which house the vast majority of Zimbabweans, are overwhelmed.

For the time being, the Head of State said he understood the grievances of the medical staff but was content to call on them to fully resume work in the face of the rapid spread of the epidemic.

"I call on our medical staff to act in the national interest and show a sense of responsibility," President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Friday delivering the eulogy for his late Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri. of Covid-19.

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"Your grievances, which we recognize and which we continue to take care of, cannot be defended at the expense of human lives," he added, "when the pandemic spreads and the human toll increases, no one is a winner, no one. We all die. "

On Saturday evening, the country recorded 490 new cases of Covid-19 in 24 hours, the highest figure since the appearance of the new coronavirus in Zimbabwe and the number of deaths - 69 - has doubled in 10 days.

"We have no protective equipment and all the government does are promises", protested Norman Matara. "There are no drugs in the hospitals, it's difficult to do our job."

According to him, 15% of Covid-19 infections recorded in the country concern members of the healthcare staff.

- "Lack of serious policy" -

"This shows that we run a significant risk of being infected and therefore we cannot continue to work without protective clothing", he underlines.

The nurses have promised not to back down until their demands are met. "Nurses are infected every day," said the president of a nurses union, Simbarashe Tafirenyika.

"We are forced to wear N95 masks for seven days and surgical masks for three days, while we are supposed to throw them away (these two types of masks, editor's note) after a single use," he explains. "We cannot continue to die" and we must "protect our families".

The country has not had a real Minister of Health for nearly a month and the July 7 sacking of Obadiah Moyo, charged with corruption and accused of illegally awarding a $ 20 million contract for the supply of Covid-19 tests and protective equipment.

Most hospitals no longer have administrative officials, sacked en masse after suspicion of corruption in the supply of protective equipment against the coronavirus.

"The political seriousness needed to resolve current health challenges is lacking," said Itai Rusike, director of the Community Health Working Group (CWGH), a network of citizen and community organizations.

"Without a real Minister of Health (...) the Ministry of Health operates on automatic pilot", he believes.

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Deadly mistakes in aged care outbreak .
Some of the deaths and anguish caused by Victoria's second wave epidemic need not have happened. Molony works in aged care. Until recently, she worked as a clinical first responder for Aspen Medical, an international agency contracted by the federal government to help nursing homes deal with COVID-19 outbreaks.In April she was sent into Newmarch House, the western Sydney nursing home where 19 residents died with the virus. On Monday, July 20, she was sent to an Estia aged care facility in Heidelberg. After experiencing what she did that day, she says she will never work a shift for Aspen again.

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This is interesting!