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Coronavirus: Zimbabwean doctors file lawsuit against the government over lack of protective equipment

Zimbabwean doctors have filed a lawsuit against the government over its failure to provide those working on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic with masks.

The Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) is seeking to push the authorities to urgently act and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical practitioners,and warning that failure to do this would ressult in many workers on the frontline dying.

In an application filed at the High Court, the doctors said the government had failed to set in place “measures to ensure that health practitioners across the country, who include nurses, nurse aides and pharmacists among others, are adequately protected”

Tapiwa Mungofa, treasurer of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, said hospitals had entered emergency mode.

He said only a few doctors, especially those with their own transport and those who reside at the hospitals are currently reporting for duty.

ZADHR said 1,500 staff working in public hospitals require at least three masks daily, a “luxury” that the government is failing to provide.

Doctors and nurses staged a walkout last month in protest over a lack of protective clothing to care for coronavirus patients.

Zimbabwe has so far recorded 11 cases of infection, including two fatalities.

Zimbabwe has only one coronavirus test centre, situated at a government hospital in Harare. Since Zimbabwe recorded its first positive case in March, testing has fallen behind and only 316 suspected cases have been tested for Covid-19.

A fortnight ago, Zimbabwe received a donation from the Jack Ma Foundation that included 200,000 tests, 100,000 face masks and 10,000 protective suits, but the equipment is not enough for the country’s health personnel.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean Billionare, Strive Masiyiwa, has donated 45 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ventilators to public hospitals in the country.

The medical kits are expected to be delivered at the end of April, to support government efforts to combat the disease.

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