Mangwiro grilled over delays in the release of Covid-19 results

Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro has been grilled in Parliament over the delays by public health institutions in the release of Covid-19 results, a development legislators feel is forcing some people to opt for the private sector.

Zimbabwe has so far recorded over 7, 800 positive cases of the pandemic with infections seemingly having been subdued for the past two weeks.

The government, which has further relaxed lockdown conditions has also said strides have been made in the fight against the disease.

However, Norton legislator Temba Mliswa still feels the government needs to do more in the provision of health services in the country as well as in the fight against Covid-19.

“Mr Speaker, the point of clarity that I seek is: the government is supposed in its policy to provide affordable health care but it seems they are not doing that,” he bemoaned.

“The second point is: the reason why people are going to the private sector is the time factor on getting (Covid-19) results. The question is while you brag about being well-facilitated why is it taking long for the results to go out. It forces people to go to the private sector which is expensive.”

In his response, Mangwiro said there were a number of factors behind delays in the release of results.

“I think his question is about timing and coming back with results,” he explained.

“It depends on which institution you go to. If one has their sample collected, say from Kuwadzana and they are all batched together, say 96 per test. This thing takes about four hours just to get the particle of the virus, and then it has to be multiplied or amplified to become a proper virus for us to then say this is Covid. The problem is there are so many problems that cause delay.”

He said labelling was one of them.

“First, it could be the labelling itself that the Honourable is alluding to say this specimen has come from Kuwadzana or Chiredzi,” he elaborated.

“They are all batched together then they take time to distribute. We have since moved in to make sure that the labelling and anything that causes delay is removed from the system and right now we are quite computerised especially from our central referral laboratories that people must get their results.”

Mangwiro stressed, it was not the government’s policy to delay the release of results.

“If someone has been tested and thinks that time has been too long, we also allow them to phone us or anyone else to help us quicken the turnaround time for the PCR testing but otherwise it is not the government policy to delay results,” he emphasized.

“Our policy is that people must be served as soon as they come to the hospital, get treatment or travel wherever they want to go. Our policy is we want to improve the turnaround time so that things get well for everyone.”

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