Government has violated a High Court order compelling it to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to all frontline health workers, according to nurses’ and doctors’ associations.
High Court judges Joseph Musakwa and Owen Tagu,made the order in April 2020, stressing that government must ensure that all frontline health practitioners working at public health facilities or deployed to trace contacts exposed by infected people were provided with adequate PPE. .
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) sought the order after submitting that the ill-equipped health workers were vulnerable and could easily contract the Covid 19.
However, in separate interviews with Grazers News, health worker leaders said the recent deaths and increase in numbers of their colleagues succumbing to the virus was due to government failing to comply with the order.
Enock Dongo, the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) president, said, in addition to ignoring the High Court order, government also declined to approve other requested safety measures from the health workers.
“The government has also not complied with our request to have nurses report for duty in flexible hours in order to reduce the time they spend in hospitals,” he said.
Nurses at major hospitals such as the Parirenyatwa group in Harare and Mpilo in Bulawayo have in the past staged demonstrations against failure by government to provide them with PPE.
Lately, the numbers of health care workers contracting the virus and those dying from it have been on the rise.
Douglas Chikobvu, the Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union (ZPNU) secretary general, said government’s failure to effectively protect health workers from Covid-19.was to blame for the upsurge in the national caseload.
“Those of us who are infected end up spreading the virus to our beloved ones at home. We have lost some technocrats in health simply because of the absence of basic tools of work in hospitals and clinics,” he said.
The ZADHR secretary-general, Norman Matara, concurred that government has ignored the court order on PPE.
“Four weeks ago, nurses at Harare Central hospital were on strike of lack of PPEs. We also read in the newspapers about five days ago that at the Chinhoyi provincial hospital, the medical superintended was also crying about lack of PPE. So, you see that government has not complied with the High Court order,” he said.