Shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has exposed health workers in Bulawayo to Covid-19, as the coronavirus pandemic continues spreading in communities threatening both people and workers in health institutions, City Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni has said.
The mayor said while receiving a donation, Thursday, from the National Aids Council (NAC) and World Vision who donated an assortment of PPE materials, disinfectant and water equipment respectively.
Healthcare workers rely on PPE to protect themselves and their patients from being infected and infecting others with Covid-19.
But shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients, resulting in desperate calls from city officials for assistance in purchasing more protective clothing.
Cllr Mguni said local health workers faced acute shortage of PPE and were thus exposed to the highly infectious disease.
“We express gratitude for the support Bulawayo continues to receive from partners in terms of the fight against Covid-19 pandemic. Today’s (Thursday) donation coming from NAC and World Vision comes in as a timely intervention. Just yesterday (Tuesday), when we had our multi-sectorial meeting here at the Large City Hall, we made an observation that our health staff and frontline workers were at risk of contracting Covid-19 due to shortage of PPE,” the mayor said.
NAC’s contribution worth $ZWL1 million consisted of 1000 N95 masks, 600 Disposable Medical Overalls and 30 boxes of Latex Examination Gloves.
Speaking at the same event, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution in Bulawayo, Judith Ncube, made a passionate plea for more support to purchase more PPE, as the country recorded a surge in new Covid-19 cases.
“Let’s contribute to buy PPE so that professionals can be able to take care of us. It’s painful to see professionals unable to tend to patients due to PPE shortage. Let’s contribute buy PPE for doctors and nurses, may assist us that is my plea,” she said.
“These commodities are meant to protect health workers against COVID-19 as they deliver services to the public. The country has recorded a surge in new cases and this calls for additional measures to protect health workers.”
NAC Provincial Manager, Sinatra Nyathi, said as they continued coordinating the national multi-sectoral response on HIV and AIDS, Covid-19 was another factor to be incorporated.
“We realise, there’s no way we can continue coordinating a national response to HIV and Aids without incorporating Covid-19. We also realise that Covid-19 has affected a majority of health workers so as NAC we came to donate PPE material to Bulawayo’s Health Department to protect them from contracting Covid-19 as they implement duties on a day to day basis,” Nyathi said.
“Without this PPE we are going to continue spreading Covid-19 in our city so we are showing our support. We will continue using decentralised structures to make sure people in the communities have accurate information as far as Covid-19 and HIV is concerned.”
Meanwhile, World Vision’s Integrated Programmes Director, Khumbulani Ndlovu said the organisation had received funding to use in Bulawayo amounting to US$157 000, ‘dedicated mainly’ to respond to the diarrhoea outbreak in western areas such as Luveve.
“We have cleaning material and will support 12 institutions (in the city). Apart from cleaning this funding will help us install 5 000 litre tanks at 12 institutions to enhance water availability and avert incidences of diarrhoea.
“Water provision is essential as well in our Covid-19 response so to make sure there is cleanliness, we will also be installing 10 000 litres water kiosks at five sites, delivery of 110 000 litres of water per week through bowsers, distributions of 900 menstrual hygiene management kits to support vulnerable households, distribution of 2 400 N95 masks and distribution of PPE to complement work other partners are doing,” he said.
Ndlovu said World Vision would support other initiatives directed at health workers and city council staff.
“We will also be rehabilitating 15 boreholes and doing water quality analysis and conducting awareness-raising through various platforms,” he said.