By Bernard Mpofu
Zimbabwean doctors have bemoaned the inequalities caused by the advent of Covid-19 with the marginalised and the poor bearing the brunt of lack of access to health facilities.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR), a non-governmental organisation for medical practitioners, made the observation as the country joined the world in commemorating World Health Day on April 7.
“ZADHR, on this day, joins all stakeholders in the health sector in taking stock of the gains, misses and opportunities in the fight against Covid-19 in Zimbabwe,” ZADHR said in a statement.
“ZADHR notes that the poor, indigent and marginalised communities have suffered the most due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The situation has further amplified gender, social and health inequalities and calls for governments across the world to ensure that citizens, especially the marginalised, are protected from the negative effects of the pandemic socially and economically.
“In this vein, ZADHR applauds governments across the world on the Covax initiative, an international solidarity mechanism to ensure that poor countries access vaccines for Covid-19.
“We believe the initiative, if implemented well, has the propensity to support communities in resource limited countries, in getting a fair share of the global vaccines available.
“We also note the strides the government of Zimbabwe has made in sourcing vaccines and the current roll-out plan.”
Zimbabwe has been reluctant to sign to the Covax facility, preferring to buy Covid-19 vaccines from China, India and Russia.
The country has also received donations of vaccines from the three countries to start its immunization programme.
ZADHR, however, expressed concern about the poor uptake of vaccines across the country and urged the Health and Child Care ministry to step-up education campaigns.
“We also urge the government of Zimbabwe to invest more in financing the procurement of more vaccines and expanding the geographic reach of the programme,” the association said.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged governments around the world to improve the welfare of people hardest hit by Covid-19.
“All over the world, some groups struggle to make ends meet with little daily income, have poorer housing conditions and education, fewer employment opportunities, experience greater gender inequality, and have little or no access to safe environments, clean water and air, food security and health services,” the WHO said in a statement to mark World Heath Day.
“That’s why we are calling on leaders to ensure that everyone has living and working conditions that are conducive to good health.
“At the same time, we urge leaders to monitor health inequities, and to ensure that all people are able to access quality health services when and where they need them.”
According to the WHO, Covid-19 has hit all countries hard, but its impact has been harshest on communities, which were already ‘vulnerable and are more exposed to the disease, less likely to have access to quality health care services and are more likely to experience adverse consequences as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic.
Zimbabwe reported its first Covid-19 case in March last year and as of April 11, the country had recorded 37,288 cases with 1,538 deaths and 34,873 recoveries.