The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa has announced that a wide range of reforms to transform the health sector are in the pipeline. She also said that they will be implemented through the introduction of systems that work in the national interests.
Highlighting Vice President Chiwenga’s submissions during the post cabinet briefing yesterday 18 August, Senator Mutsvangwa said that much focus is pinned on four pillars in the health delivery. These are Pharmaceuticals and Biopharmaceuticals with emphasis on product manufacturing and Biomedical Engineering which will be targeting the manufacturing of ventilators, hospital beds as well as other essential equipment. Also, Biomedical Science and Laboratory Science through incorporating research on pathogens and the manufacturing of consumables such as reagents; and Public Health Strategy and Guidelines Formulation. The revamping of the Health System is expected to result in robust medical services.Â
In order to curtail the spike in infections, Senator Mutsvangwa said that Zimbabwe requires a more robust testing regime. In this regard, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education Innovation Science and Technology Development, through the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), was directed to work on the production of PCR Primers and Viral Transport media.
To strengthen the National COVID-19 response, Senator Mutsvangwa said that a Technical Steering Committee of experts from all the sectors involved in the response will be constituted. The team will have clearly defined terms of reference whilst the COVID-19 response is to be merged into a single response plan comprising of the Command Centre, Office of the COVID-19 Chief Coordinator and Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Meanwhile, the previously enacted 6am-6pm curfew has been extended to 6am-8pm with a view to ensure that businesses do not continue to suffer whilst also making sure that the risks of fuelling COVID-19 infections remain on check.
“Having noted the plight of the public and the need to lessen the risk of contracting COVID-19, Cabinet directed as follows: that the business hours which were ending at 15:00 hours be revisited to end at 1630 hours and the curfew to be extended to 2000 hours, that Public transport drivers undergo regular COVID-19 PCR tests and that public transport buses be allowed a dedicated lane at roadblocks to expedite their passage,” said Senator Mutsvangwa.
Also, immigrants who are PCR negative on arrival will no longer be detained but be put on home quarantine and reviews will be conducted by the Rapid Response Teams in that locality. Those who test positive on arrival will be placed in isolation centres.
Senator Mutsvangwa reassured the nation that measures are being put in place to ensure that health workers return to work. She stressed that the success of implementing the COVID-19 response is hinged on the availability of health staff. Against this backdrop, acquisition of Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) for health workers and front liners is being prioritized.
Pertaining to Primary and Secondary Education, Senator Mutsvangwa cited that the sector is continuing with its preparations for the re-opening of schools for final examination classes. Befittingly, the developed and approved guidelines that were put in place for the June 2020 examinations will be used for the holding ofÂ the final examinations in November/December.