From George Maponga in Chiredzi
Zimbabwe’s health delivery system is being reformed and restructured, new Health and Child Care Minister Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said yesterday, promising a new era in healthcare.
The Vice President was recently mandated by President Mnangagwa the additional task of taking charge of the Health Ministry, currently under the spotlight because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Eighteen more deaths due to Covid-19 have been recorded between Thursday last week and Tuesday this week after tests during post-mortems, taking the total death toll to 122.
In its daily report yesterday, the Ministry of Health and Child Care said the patients died in the community and on admission to the casualty ward at Parirenyatwa Hospital and other hospitals. Almost all the deaths — 10 men and six women — were in Harare with one man each from Manicaland and Midlands. Mutare and Gweru have been seen as the epicentres of the pandemic in these two provinces.
Yesterday, 75 new infections were confirmed, all local except a single returning resident from South Africa, taking the total to 4 893 confirmed cases with 3 740 of these being infected within Zimbabwe.
Of the local infections, Harare accounts for 1 595 with 71 deaths, Bulawayo for 1 103 with 23 deaths, Midlands for 334 with six deaths and Manicaland for 195 with 10 deaths. Mashonaland East, which includes a belt of settlements, such as Ruwa, right on Harare’s eastern border, now has 197 local cases and one death.
There have been 1 620 confirmed recoveries but with the Harare total on just 76 there is still a large group of people who are now well but who have yet to enter the official statistics as cured.
South Africa has now recorded 10 751 deaths from 566 109 cases but with 426 125 recoveries.
Besides dealing with Covid-19, nurses are also on industrial action in some parts of the country in protest over working conditions.
Speaking for the first time following his appointment to head the ministry, Vice President Chiwenga, who was speaking at Hippo Valley estates during a tour of winter maize being grown on newly cleared and irrigated land, said a new era had dawned.
“Things will never be the same again. We are restructuring and reforming our health delivery system. We want to rebuild the structures from village to referral level. Things will never be the same again, but we must work together.”
The clean-up of the country’s health sector was being done together with the Health Services Board and other ministries such as Finance and Economic Development.
“We have already identified the problems and we do not want a repeat of what was happening before,” he said.
Turning to Covid-19 cases that continue to rise in the country, he urged Zimbabweans to adhere to what health experts say and was concerned that infections continued to spike in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare, the country’s biggest cities.
“I am the Minister of Health (and Child Care) and we are faced with a pandemic. We are getting daily updates on Covid-19 and Mr Covid-19 kills. The current state of affairs should not remain like this.”
Community and political leaders, including Parliamentarians, had to take the lead in the fight against Covid-19 in their areas if the battle against it was to be won.
President Mnangagwa appointed Vice President Chiwenga as new Health Minister after firing Dr Obadiah Moyo after he was arrested on allegations of involvement in a dubious procurement deal now cancelled.