Community members in Zaka and Bikita who are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s virtual information centers have questioned governments’ sincerity in providing quality health care in line with Section 76 of the constitution that provides for the right to health care.
This came out during virtual discussions organised by Heal Zimbabwe on the impact of COVID 19 pandemic on local communities in Zaka and Bikita. Participants noted that several clinics and hospitals in Zaka and Bikita do not have drugs even for minor ailments such as headaches. In most cases, patients are turned away without receiving treatment owing to the shortage of drugs. The struggle for quality health care has also been worsened by the high cost of most basic commodities. Communities highlighted that most shops were demanding foreign currency for basic commodities such as cooking oil, flour and sugar. At most shops a 2litre bottle of cooking oil is being sold as high as US$3.00 while a 2kg bag of sugar is sold for US$2.50 respectively. Community members noted that all these factors contributed immensely to most domestic conflicts.
Other issues that came out during the discussions include the increase in the number of people from neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Botswana who are paying bribes to police officers manning roadblocks to gain entry into rural areas. Community members noted that this has increased the risk of contracting the COVID 19 pandemic. The situation has also been worsened by the lack of COVID 19 screening and testing kits at most local clinics and hospitals. As part of the way forward, communities resolved to set up Community Watch Communities (CWC’s) which will be responsible for coordinating and reporting all returnees to the responsible authorities. Community members also expressed gratitude to Heal Zimbabwe Trust for donating sanitizers that are being used at most water points such as community boreholes. Communities noted that this has greatly helped improve hygiene and ensure that community members contain the spread of COVID 19 pandemic.
The virtual Information centers by Heal Zimbabwe are an initiative meant to create platforms for communities during COVID-19 lockdown where they can discuss and collectively identify ways through which they can proffer solutions to problems in their communities. The information centers also equip communities with relevant information on Covid 19 by bringing in specialised personnel such as health workers, Ministry of Health representatives among others to educate communities on COVID 19.Virtual information centers are also platforms that facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities.