Govt spends big on COVID-19 response
Harare (New Ziana) – Government has spent $11 billion towards Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 response programme since the onset of the pandemic early last year, a Cabinet Minister said on Tuesday.
The money has covered expenses including procurement of personal protective equipment, refurbishing and equipping designated COVID-19 healthcare facilities among other developments.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the government funding was being complemented by donor support including a recent allocation of US$75 million by the Global Fund.
“The allocation (by the Global Fund) is for three years, from 2021 to 2023. It should, however, be noted that Government continues to provide resources from its own coffers for the COVID-19 response programme, with ZW$11 billion having been released since the onset of the Outbreak,” she said.
“On a related matter, Government efforts in refurbishing and upgrading health facilities are beginning to yield the desired results. Government is pleased to announce that Ekusileni Medical Centre (in Bulawayo) has been fully refurbished and will soon be officially opened.
“Thorngrove Hospital (in Gweru) was refurbished and upgraded to a 28-bed fully equipped COVID-19 isolation centre and is admitting COVID-19 patients. The first-ever free orthopaedic paediatric hospital and COVID-19 Isolation Centre based at United Bulawayo Hospital is also set to be soon officially opened. The hospital will attend to children with various orthopaedic conditions, including those with congenital deformities from all over the country.”
To alleviate pressure on hospitals, Mutsvangwa said government was pursuing a new innovation for COVID-19 management.
“In a development set to revolutionise COVID-19 management, Cabinet adopted a proposal to set up a Virtual Hospital for the Management of COVID-19 patients. This comes from the realisation that most COVID-19 patients recover without symptoms or after experiencing mild ones, which do not require hospitalisation,” she said.
“Government will establish a provisional figure of 10 000 to 20 000 home based beds. A network of health staff will carry out protocol based monitoring and management of the cases.”
She said equipment support for this programme included rechargeable oxygen concentrators, finger pulse or saturation monitors, non-contact thermometers, blood glucose testing machines and blood pressure machines.
“The equipment will be deployed to the admitted patients and returned when the patient gets discharged. The establishment of the Virtual Hospital will therefore alleviate the pressure on hospitals. The public will be kept abreast of developments in this regard,” she said.
Meanwhile, the country’s vaccination drive continues to gather momentum.
As of 26 April, a total of 353 834 people had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while 57 776 had received their second.
“Cabinet wishes to assure citizens that they can receive their vaccination jabs anywhere in the country. This applies to the second vaccination dose as well, that is, people may be vaccinated at a location different from where they took their first jab if they so wish,” she said.