Workers’ Day: Role of health workers comes under spotlight

The role of health workers in the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Zimbabwe has come under the spotlight as the world celebrates the International Workers’ Day today.

May Day, as the day is also known, is observed every year to pay tribute to the contribution of workers across the world.

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH), a local civic society organisation, said the contribution of health workers to Zimbabwe’s well-being at a time when the world is fighting COVID-19 could not be overemphasised.

“It is under this difficult operating environment that the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) would like to acknowledge and pay tribute to the critical role being played by frontline health workers who are risking their lives to save their nation from this contagious monster disease,” said the organisation’s executive director, Itai Rusike.

“Their commitment to national duty is unparalleled and should be accorded the heroism that it deserves. The same accolade goes to all other supporting staff who are fighting from the background through all other means to ensure the end of this pandemic.”

Zimbabwe has so far recorded 40 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including four deaths and five recoveries, while worldwide the pandemic has infected over two million and claimed thousands of lives.

To scale up the fight against COVID-19, the government has since recruited more health workers.

“This year’s national Workers’ Day theme; “Stop COVID-19 Pandemic: Scale up social protection and dialogue, save jobs and pay a living wage”, befits the current environment which emphasizes stopping the spread of the virus and urging employers to pay wages that sustain families especially during this lockdown period,” said Rusike.

The current economic downturn, however, characterised by the high cost of food prices and spiralling inflation has worsened the situation especially for the vulnerable people in the country.

Badly affected is the informal sector, which currently supports over 90 percent of the country’s 14 million people.

“In the absence of functioning national safety net, many poor families, the disabled and the majority of the informal sector workers have already run out of food and other basic household needs during this five- week long lockdown,” bemoaned Rusike.

“They (the less-privileged) had little or no savings of their own. The health delivery system in Zimbabwe is being overwhelmed, with a lack of health care capacity for patients and a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.”

He added, with 40 confirmed cases across the country, they were concerned about the capacity of the health system to respond as case numbers keep growing.

“For example, there are only a few intensive care beds at Wilkins Infectious Disease Hospital and many districts still do not have ventilators or extensive testing,” he said.

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