Teachers’ unions yesterday revealed that a majority of their members were yet to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus and were psychologically unprepared for schools reopening which government hinted on last week.
Government last week gazetted Statutory Instrument (SI) 210 of 2021, stating that schools will remain closed until August 10, 2021, but preparing to reopen.
But teachers’ unions said there was lack of preparedness on the part of their members, the majority of whom were not vaccinated, adding that it would endanger learners.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) acting national secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said government should be guided by science on issues of opening of schools for the second term as the third wave of the pandemic was currently taking its toll.
On Tuesday, the country recorded 41 deaths and 1 580 new infections.
Out of the 10 million the country aims to vaccinate, only 1 707 671 had got their first jab, while 832 884 got their second jab.
“If we compare statistics this time around to last year’s lockdown figures, they have more than doubled,” Taderera said.
“There has been a serious scourge. The majority of teachers have not been vaccinated. Our encouragement is that the government must look at the graph. It must be informed by scientific evidence, and then we can talk about schools opening.”
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said: “Teachers are incapacitated and we are losing a lot of our fellow workers almost on a daily basis now. If the government is sincere and honest, it should roll out a vaccination programme for teachers just like what it did for nurses. ’’ *NewsDay*
As LGBTIQ People Shun Public Covid-19 Vaccination Sites
The Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) says its members are avoiding public Covid-19 vaccination centres because of discrimination.
In response, the sexual minorities rights group, is rolling out the establishment of safe sites where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons can access non-discriminatory healthcare services.
Last week, GALZ ran a static vaccination site in Harare to kick-start the mass inoculation exercise of its membership, which will soon be extended to Mutare and Masvingo.
Bulawayo has another resource centre, which has already engaged Bulawayo City Council’s health directorate to help the nation attain herd immunity by encouraging its members get their vaccine shots at safe sites on designated days.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, a GALZ official who requested anonymity, said the rights organisation had initiated the ‘private’ jabbing campaign to protect sexual minorities from unwarranted attacks.
“We received information that some members felt wary of going to public health facilities to access the jabs because the Zimbabwean society remains largely homophobic, using the guise of religion and culture, to discriminate and violate LGBTI persons.
“Homophobia is the reason for most human rights violations that LGBTQ+ persons experience. Common violations include hate speech, blackmail, unlawful arrest and detention, disownment by families, excommunication from religious institutions, eviction, forced marriage, extortion, invasion of privacy and loss of employment,” said the GALZ officer. *NewZimbabwe*
*WHO Ranks Zim High ln Vaccine Procurement*
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have rated Zimbabwe among the best countries in the world when it comes to buying and acquiring supplies of Covid-19vaccines.
In their comprehensive joint database to track the number of Covid-19 vaccines secured through different channels, IMF and WHO gave Zimbabwe a rating of around 98 percent for its efforts that have seen payments already made for around 85 percent of the vaccines needed for the national progamme.
Zimbabwe is among the three best countries in Africa, the other two being Morocco and Egypt, and joins the likes of the United States, Canada, Japan, Canada, Brazil and a swathe of European countries.
President Mnangagwa’s administration set aside US$100 million for the purchase of vaccines and US$93 million has so far been used to boost Government’s target to inoculate at least 10 million people, enough to achieve a 60 percent herd immunity.
Zimbabwe acquired just over 12 million vaccines through direct purchase, and has also joined the African Union (AU) vaccine facility after paying US$7,5 million.
The balance will be paid under a loan facility, which will see the country getting about five million shots, and will also get more than one million doses from the Covax facility.
From purchase as well as donations from other countries like China, Zimbabwe has received and secured cumulatively enough jabs to vaccinate at least nine million people, 90 percent of the minimum 10 million required for reaching herd immunity.
In a note left on their site, the IMF said, following the first meeting of the Multilateral Leaders Taskforce for scaling Covid-19 tools between WHO, the World Bank Group, IMF and World Trade Organisation the IMF-WHO Covid-19 vaccine supply tracker was now available. *Herald*
Pharmacies Sell Unapproved Covid-19 Test Kits
There are some Harare pharmacies selling substandard Covid-19 test kits not approved for use and those relying on the results from such kits could be putting the lives of the public at risk if positive cases are reported as negative.
During a multi stakeholder inspection by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Health Professions Authority, and Medical Laboratories and Clinical Scientists Council yesterday it was established that pharmacies were selling the kits that were not permitted for use in the country. Besides the required approval of kits, all testing of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe has to be done by certified health personnel and authorised health institutions, both public and private.
Health Professions Authority public relations manager Ms Tariro Manamike said they were concerned over the sale of unapproved Covid-19 test kits which were producing wrong results. Most test kits that are being sold in pharmacies were substandard and not approved by health regulatory authorities.
“What we noted was there were many pharmacies in Harare that are selling unapproved test kits and this goes against the grain in us trying to fight the spread of Covid-19. So we are going to give these findings to the Ministry of Health and Child Care to address the issue.
“It is our effort to curb this unethical practice to make sure that we have got the correct figures. If the fight against Covid-19 is going to be successful, it will take joint efforts between the Ministry, the public together with all the healthcare professionals servicing members of the public. Members of the public are encouraged to get tested at health institutions approved by the Government.”
Medical laboratory science head in the Ministry’s Covid-19 department, Mr Kenneth Maeka said Covid-19 testing in Zimbabwe should be done by approved health institutions not in pharmacies.
“We wanted to make sure that we inspect pharmacies that are reportedly selling Covid-19 test kits which are rapid antigen test kits to check on the approval status of those kits. For the purpose of regulatory issues in Zimbabwe we know that testing has to be done using approved diagnostic kits.
“We are going to give advice and a directive to pharmacies that testing in Zimbabwe is supposed to be done only by trained personnel and in health facilities which have been certified and authorised to handle those Covid-19 samples,” he said. *Zimpapers*
‘Public Transport Congestion An Impediment Against COVID-19 Fight’
Public policy think tank, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) has bemoaned the congestion at public transport termini which they said is an impediment in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
In an Access to Public Health Monitoring Report for the month of July, ZDI said the lack of social distancing during peak hours had become a serious health concern.
“On the 6:30 pm curfew, the cities of Harare and Bulawayo are experiencing congestion in roads leading to the central business centers; this has seen long queues at ZUPCO bus terminuses with no evidence of social distancing while experiencing pressure at illegal mushika-shika terminuses. These have become spreaders of the Covid-19 virus.
“The shortage of public transport in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare has been threatening to derail efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, as commuters are hardly practicing any social distancing while in queues for busses. Prior to the pandemic, there were more 50 000 commuter omnibuses operating in the country, the number has currently depleted by more than 80%.
“Commuters have been hit by shortage of public transport in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare and second largest city, Bulawayo amid Covid-19 pandemic since public transport is banned. There is a high possibility that people may contract and spread the virus as they are using private transport where many people are often seen bundled up in pick-up trucks, lorries and illegal ‘kombis’ disregarding all the Covid-19 safety precautions of physical distancing and sanitization,” noted the report.
ZDI took a swipe at recent gatherings by members of the Johane Marange Apostolic sect in Manicaland citing the gathering as a potential spreader of the virus.
“Lack of compliance to measures by those in power has also been ascribed to the spread of the pandemic. On the ban of public gatherings, ZANU PF has been holding political meetings with more than 40 participants while the Johane Marange church also held their annual conference physically in Manicaland. This means the two parties were not in compliance with lockdown measures which prohibited public gatherings and only allowing 30 people at funerals,” said ZDI.
The think tank urged the Government to decentralize the accessibility of vaccines and to employ more health professionals so as to decongest the current long queues at various vaccination centres. *263Chat*
‘E-Waste Hazardous To Children & Pregnant Women’
World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised concern over the mismanagement of electronic waste saying it is a health hazard to children and pregnant women.
In a recent study titled, Children and digital dumpsites: e-waste exposure and child health, WHO noted that prenatal and childhood exposure to e-waste are significantly linked with serious health conditions hence the need to ensure its properly disposed of.
E-waste refers to the remains of technological materials once used in homes and industries such as laptops, mobile phones, television sets, coffee machines, fridges, old analogue radios and many other electrical gadgets, including plastic waste, generated by developed countries.
“The study reveals disturbing evidence of the hazardous impact of e-waste on the health of children and pregnant women. Prenatal and childhood e-waste exposure are significantly linked with impaired neurodevelopment and behaviour, particularly as a result of exposure to lead, mercury and other organic chemicals,” WHO noted.
“Poor e-waste management has resulted in negative birth outcomes, which have been associated with chemical exposure, including exposure to PAHs, lead, cadmium, nickel and chromium. This has negatively impacted on children’s health as it causes lung malfunction and respiratory effects, including cough, wheezing and asthma.”
WHO noted that there have also been reports of damaged DNA associated with exposure to lead, chromium, cadmium and nickel as well as increased risk of some chronic diseases later in life, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
“The report further revealed that chemicals detected in e-waste recycling processes belong to the group of 10 chemicals named by WHO as of major public health concern. These include heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury; persistent organic pollutants such as dioxins; and fine particles (PM2.5) and other air pollutants emitted through e-waste combustion,” WHO said.
A Bulawayo-based human rights watchdog, Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR), in a bid to address e-waste management in the country, petitioned the Parliament of Zimbabwe to enact a national e-waste policy to regulate the disposal, sorting, and recycling of e-waste in the country.
“The e-waste policy will also be integral in controlling the importation of electric and electronic equipment that is already in its end of shelf life or that is recycled,” MIHR stated.
“Enacting such a policy is a step by the government towards the progressive realisation of human rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe as committed by Vision 2030.—CITE