Community members who are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s virtual information centers from Matebeleland, Masvingo, Manicaland and Mashonaland east and central have expressed concern over the inaccessibility of information on the novel corona virus. The virtual information centers by Heal Zimbabwe were established to bridge the information gap in local communities on covid 19, rally communities in the fight against Covid-19 and create platforms for communities to engage on other issues affecting communities.
Topical among issues raised on these platforms include lack of adequate information on Covid 19. Community members noted that in most cases this was due to poor radio signal reception and mobile network coverage. Due to these challenges, communities are unable to receive near real time updates on Covid 19 and other preventative measures guidelines. In most cases, communities are left at the mercy of chain messages on social media platforms such as Whatsapp that more than often are usually false and misleading. Community members proposed that government must decentralize information on Covid 19 and ensure that key information on this deadly virus reaches even remote districts. Added to this, community members also noted that local Village Health Workers while they have been helpful in encouraging hygienic practices in local communities, they also have limited information on the virus. One example cited was how Village Health Workers are unable to able to provide accurate statistical data on cases recorded in the country. In most cases, the statistics that they usually have are usually incorrect or would have been overtaken by events.
As part of way forward, communities highlighted that government through the responsible Ministry is supposed to conduct robust training for health workers on corona virus and other home based care practices that help to prevent further corona infections within communities. The virtual Information centers by Heal Zimbabwe are an initiative meant to equip communities with relevant information on Covid 19, facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities.