Local gvt service delivery, the bane of Covid-19 management
AS THE nation reaches 100 days into the Covid-19 pandemic induced lockdown this week, we are clearly facing a steady and consistent rise in local transmission cases.
Accordingly, this calls for more measures by government to strengthen public confidence regarding its readiness to manage the spread of Covid-19.
In a welcome development the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro recently urged citizens to remain alert, continue practising good hygiene and social distancing, as the country is set to experience a spike in local transmissions.
The worry is, Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 confirmed cases had risen to 698, with 107 cases attributed to local transmissions.
Government also reported the death of one Covid-19 positive woman, aged 21, from Harare, bringing the number of deaths due to the pandemic to eight in the country.
According to the Chief Co-ordinator of the National Response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Agnes Mahomva of the 99 local cases (recorded by Friday), 77 are directly linked to returnees while 22 are a result of community transmissions.
The relaxation of lockdown measures and the increased mingling of locals and returnees over the past few weeks was attributed to be the main causes.
Issues of sanitation and hygiene, and the fact that the country is currently in the influenza season, have also been highlighted.
Epidemiologist, Dr Portia Manangazira, also said surge in transmission was expected due to water and sanitation infrastructure which is inadequate, as well as returnees.
Dr Manangazira did not mince her words, saying that water, sanitation and hygiene issues which were not up to scratch and have become a major challenge and have contributed to the spike of local transmissions.
The disturbing trend is the declining service delivery in urban cities, particularly the provision of potable water for the millions of residents who are at risk.
While water is a universal human right, guaranteed by the Supreme law of the land, the dire water provision situation also obtaining in areas such as Warren Park, Bulawayo and Mkoba Gweru and many others speaks volumes about the authorities’ failure to address this problem.
We call upon the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, and all local authorities in their respective districts, to ensure adequate provision water, through the implementation of short and long-term strategies.
Chitungwiza, a town for many years the epitome of the service delivery disaster, clearly shows that both the government and city fathers are clueless as to how to avert a major health time bomb.
Over a million residents have been denied their right to water despite a court order granted that sought to address the anomaly.
The few boreholes that have been drilled by council have run dry in many areas as well as the wells.
The situation is exacerbated by the raw sewage that freely flows in many areas of Chitungwiza on a daily basis.
This comes as schools are reopening and the residents who are into vending are ignoring government’s calls for the adherence to social distancing, mandatory mask wearing to safeguard communities.
Others are cross border traders who were illegally crossing borders and evading the mandatory quarantine and isolation centres.
Such non-adherence to the WHO guidelines, including within the public transport system, may be a contributing factor to the increase in community transmission cases.
The general populace should fortify their efforts in maintaining both social and physical distancing, in every environment which may include work, public transport or supermarkets.
However, the limited reach of the urban food security programmes and the rise of basic goods and services i in light of depressed incomes of the public and the effect of hyperinflation on the local currency have not helped either.
Amid the high-level corruption that includes the rampant looting of State resources, Government, needs to be reminded of section 77 of the Constitution, which guarantees every person the right to sufficient food, and places an obligation on the State to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.
This also calls for the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare to expedite disbursement of food aid and grants to vulnerable communities in a transparent manner, without any political interference.