Doctors want Govt to provide detailed info on health workers exposed to Covid-19

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has written to the Ministry of Health and Child Care requesting it to provide them with full information on health workers exposed to Covid-19.

The doctors say there was no priority in providing information by the health ministry in its daily updates on the status of health workers who have been exposed to the novel virus.

Healthcare workers such as nurses and doctors remain on the frontline in tackling the Coronavirus pandemic and are most exposed to Covid-19 while on duty, which is why ZADHR needs information to know how many have fallen victim.

But in its daily update, the Ministry of Health no longer breaks down the case numbers, as it just provides a number of new cases that would have tested positive in the 10 provinces of the country, including the accumulative number of cases, recoveries and deaths.

“We have noted a growing trend in health professionals who are testing positive to the Coronavirus where the majority of these cases are attributable to exposure at the workplace,” said the doctors.

Their concern comes as the doctors noted there was lack of adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all frontline health personnel despite an order by the High Court for government to provide all frontline workers.

“As you aware on the April 14, 2020 with a consent order the High Court ordered the government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care to provide all frontline health personnel at ‘public health facilities in the country or deployed to trace contacts exposed by infected people, are provided with PPE…’ to protect them from the deadly coronavirus,” said ZADHR.

The doctors noted it was in the interest of health professionals and the public in general to be informed on the status of frontline staffers.

“We are urge the Ministry to provide a brief on the numbers, region, province and status of all health professionals who have tested positive to COVID-19 to date,” said ZADHR.

ZADHR is a membership based organisation that represents the interests of medical practitioners which seeks to advance the right to health in Zimbabwe.

Reached for comment, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Gibson Mhlanga said the request can be considered and the information shared with the doctors.

“Our daily update is just a snapshot of the statistics but we do compile a detailed report that we don’t share. But we can share the information with the doctors separately,” he said in an interview with CITE.

Dr Sibanda was unsure how many health workers had so far tested positive for Covid-19.

“I have to check our records to have accurate figures because I have been caught up in a lot of work,” said the acting permanent secretary.

In June, 13 more Mpilo Central Hospital nurses in Bulawayo tested positive to Covid-19.

This was after a nurse from the same institution, in the same month tested positive, which led to Mpilo isolating 197 health workers who were in contact with her and three patients who were positive.

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