Over 1500 healthcare workers across the country have contracted the deadly Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020 as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the frontline workers remains a challenge at most public hospitals.
Since last year healthcare employees have been at war with the government over the shortage of PPEs.
In a statement Monday, the Zimbabwe Medical Association’s national executive council (ZIMA) said healthcare service providers were not only working flat out under difficult circumstances to save lives, but are also becoming victims of Covid-19.
“Healthcare professionals of all grades are putting up sterling efforts to serve the population despite serious challenges and risks to themselves and their families. As of last week, over 1 500 healthcare providers had contracted the virus and at least eight had succumbed to the disease,” the association said.
“The health sector is under serious strain from the pandemic, despite all efforts from all stakeholders with limited resources to meet the escalating demands on health care services.”
The association added it was also disturbed by statements made by information ministry secretary Nick Mangwana last weekend accusing some medical doctors of having a hand in the recent deaths of senior government officials who succumbed to Covid-19.
Among those who died of Covid-19 last week are; Foreign Minister Subusiso Moyo, Transport Minister Joel Biggie Matiza, former Zimbabwe Prisons boss Paradzai Zimondi, and former Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere.
Mangwana claimed the ministers and other senior government officials who have succumbed to Covid-19 could have been deliberately killed by opposition ‘activist’ doctors.
“This is what’s leading to the unfortunate conspiracy theories that there are certain political players being eliminated in hospitals by political activists hiding behind medical qualifications,” Mangwana wrote on Twitter Sunday.
ZIMA, however, said Mangwana’s statement was disturbing and regrettable.
“Public confidence in the profession has been eroded following reports on social media from a senior government official (Mangwana) to the effect that medical practitioners (especially senior hospital doctors) are hired to assassinate people in hospitals. These utterances are indeed unfortunate and regrettable about a profession that is doing their best under very trying circumstances to serve the population,” the association said.
ZIMA added: “Let us refrain from denigrating and abusing our frontline workers who are doing their best under trying circumstances. Instead, let us give them all the necessary support to fight the pandemic.”
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has described Mangwana’s comments as “absurd and unwarranted” given the sacrifice the healthcare workers are making to save lives.
“Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights finds this allegation absurd and unwarranted at a critical time when all medical practitioners and ordinary citizens are giving their all in seeking to curb the spread of coronavirus which is claiming the precious lives of people. Such statements are also very dangerous and may lead to certain sections of society shunning medical treatment should they be infected by Covid-19,” the ZLHR said in a statement Monday.
“It is unfortunate that this is not the first time that medical practitioners have been accused by government officials of committing such misdemeanour as in recent years and months authorities have summarily dismissed doctors and nurses from employment after accusing them of being influenced by political motives, in protesting against poor remuneration and working conditions.”