Health Minister Rebuffs Hospital Beds Shortages Reports

HEALTH and Child Care Mnister, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has dismissed reports that the country’s health system is reeling from acute bed shortages.

By Michael Gwarisa

In a press statement, Vice President Chiwenga described the reports as baseless accusations by what he termed “Pen Mercenaries” and fake news peddlers.

In light of widely circulating reports alleging that there is a serious deficit of hospital beds, let me point out that these were ‘embellished social media allegations by some pen-mercenaries.’ However, if the need arises in future, my Ministry may consider options of increasing facilities currently designated for COVID 19 or designate more hospitals to take in patients. In a worst case scenario, that has so far not manifested, all hospitals in the country may be directed to take in citizens affected by COVID 19.

“In my capacity as your Minister of Health and Child Care, I want to take this opportunity to urge our beloved citizens not to panic and that they should rely on official information. I am also aware that some of our citizens are anxious to get vaccinated. The Government is following the development and dissemination of COVID 19 vaccines by other states, with keen interest,” said VP Chiwenga.

He added that despite the observations made that other African, European and Asian countries had started rolling out vaccines, Zimbabwe had adopted a measured approach, with experts interrogating all safety concerns.

“As soon as all technical and administrative obligations are met, Zimbabweans can expect to be vaccinated. The vaccination is going to be voluntary. Let me underscore that my Ministry is doing everything possible to ensure that our citizens are safe from possible side effects of some COVID 19 vaccines, currently on the shelf.”

Speaking on the possibility of extending the Lockdown, minister Chiwenga said, “There might not be any need of extending the 30-day National Lockdown if the progression of the pandemic is tamed. However, let me warn my fellow countrymen that current statistics is indicating a marginal increase in new cases.

“The total Confirmed Cases continued to mount. The prevailing situation is posing a grave threat to public health as denoted by a summary of figures contained in the table: Our citizens should not slacken. We should continue to observe guidelines of wearing masks, observing social distance and sanitization.”

He also called on citizens to abide by the lockdown regulations in the face of a worsening COVID-19 crises.

“It is unfortunate that some of our people continued to defy lockdown measures, as we might have noticed in Mbare, where some errand youths decided, in their own wisdom or lack of it, to organize a musical showcase. If all our people maintained a positive attitude towards measures to combat the CORONA Virus, there was not going to be any need for imposition of a National Lockdown.

“I am aware that lockdown measures do hurt the socio-economic livelihoods, freedoms, rights and liberties of individuals. Nevertheless, they may be necessary if some of our citizens display nonchalant behavior. Honestly, would you require Security Forces to persuade you to conform to some of these basic guidelines? We are not interested in arresting our people, therefore I urge you to reawaken internal discipline.”

He also said the National COVID 19 Taskforce will also continue discharging a critical function of information-sharing through deliberate Awareness Campaign programmes.

“The Awareness Programmes are fashioned in all languages and are widely disseminated through all media platforms and Government structures. The National COVID 19 Taskforce coordinates its efforts through Resident Ministers in every Province, who ensure that information is cascaded to District, Ward and Village levels. Government is also mobilizing traditional and church leaders among other opinion leaders to conscientise citizens on the effects of the deadly pandemic.

“I am informed of concerns by some members of the general public who want to know if Zimbabwe has enough Testing Machines? Testing is an important strategy to contain or slow the progression of the pandemic in society. I am however, yet to come across a country or society on this planet, which claims to be having adequate Testing Equipment. Nevertheless, Government is seized with the requirement to further enhance our Testing Capacity. Currently, we have a capacity of testing at least Six Thousand (6 000) people per day.”

Meanwhile, he cautioned citizens to rely on scientific backed evidence use of herbs and home remedies in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

“Someone asked me whether traditional medicines such as Mufandichimuka, Moringa, Zumbani and other herbs can be used to treat COVID 19 or substitute drugs for COVID 19?  Some Traditional Doctors were said to claiming that their patients recovered after administering herbs. My comment would be that, you might be aware that some modern medicines are actually derived from traditional herbs.

“Yes, it is possible that some traditional medicines can be used to treat COVID 19 however, there is need for scientific researches to be done to ascertain their efficacy. The Ministry of Health and Child Care actually operationalized the Traditional Medicines Department, which is pre-occupied with researches in this area.”

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