Doctors sue govt over protective clothing

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has taken the government to court for its failure to provide adequate protective clothing for medical practitioners during the COVID-19 fight.

In a court application, the association said doctors, nurses, their aides, and pharmacists are in grave danger because of government’s complacency.

“We bear the brunt of this pandemic and are vulnerable despite the 1st Respondent (Ministry of Health and Child Care) telling the world that Zimbabwe is ready, to the extent of even offering to assist other countries in distress, we have observed with trepidation that Zimbabwe is not ready for the pandemic and the measures taken so far fall short of the steps that are necessary to prevent, contain and treat the incidence of COVID-19,” reads the court application.

ZADHR also said nothing much is being done to help the cause in as far as testing and keeping hygiene levels high in the few operational essential services.

The doctors also complained about the 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 centers at the risk of failing to access healthcare.

“In addition, the facilities are too few to handle a major outbreak of the virus in the entire country. There are simply no adequate Personal Protection Equipment for health personnel working at public and private health facilities in the country. We attest to this shortage because we work there,” the doctors said.

Doctors need an average of three N95 masks per day, which translates to 4 500 masks per day for about 1 500 government doctors.

“Currently, an allocation of three N95 masks per doctor is a luxury, and yet it is a necessity if we are to avert the Italian disaster. There are no adequate testing kits for both public and frontline practitioners, with reports of suspected cases being turned away from testing centers such as Wilkins Hospital, without being tested because of insufficient testing kits. Fewer people are being tested,” said ZADHR.

So far local universities have undertaken to manufacture masks while medical practitioners are back at work after government availed a ZW$1500 risk allowance.

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