How MSF is fighting COVID-19 in Zimbabwe
Since February, we have been supporting Parirenyatwa hospital isolation center, the country’s main referral site for COVID-19 cases in Harare, to help prepare for the next potential surge of COVID-19 infections. We work towards improving infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, improve patient flow and tackle shortages of PPE, essential medicines, and medical supplies. Additionally, MSF has recruited and deployed medical staff to support the hospital. The support is based on the needs assessment we have undertaken and includes increasing the hospital’s capacity to manage admitted COVID-19 cases. MSF is also preparing to extend the COVID-19 support to a second COVID-19 isolation center, the Wilkins Hospital in Harare.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to address gaps in health care in Zimbabwe, where chronic underfunding of the health sector has led to shortages of essential medicines and supplies and deteriorating facilities.
In Zimbabwe, the socioeconomic situation remained unstable in 2019, with year-to-year inflation estimated at more than 500 percent and teachers, doctors, and other civil servants taking to the streets to protest wages. There were frequent arrests, and doctors went on a four-month strike. In addition, an ongoing drought led to failed harvests, making food insecurity a real issue.
In the capital Harare, we provide sexual and reproductive health care for adolescents through our clinic in the suburb of Mbare. In 2019, we conducted consultations with over 5,900 adolescents aged between 10 and 19, including vulnerable people living with disabilities. A social media health promotion campaign led to improved reach and coverage.
There are frequent outbreaks of cholera and typhoid fever in the city, due to the unreliability of the public water supply. Using innovative borehole technology and empowering communities to manage their own water points, MSF has developed an environmental health toolkit to supply safe drinking water in vulnerable neighborhoods. In 2019, we drilled three new boreholes, and trained three community health clubs in three suburbs. The toolkit developed in Zimbabwe was rolled out in Malawi and Mozambique.
MSF also participated in a typhoid vaccination campaign in the city that reached 320,000 people. Learn how you can best help in Zimbabwe and other countries.
In Manicaland province, we run services for non-communicable diseases through a nurse-based model in rural clinics, thereby bringing care closer to patients. In 2019, 3,800 patients with moderate/severe diabetes and hypertension received care in MSF-supported facilities, including 120 patients on insulin. After Cyclone Idai hit the Chimanimani district, we provided wound stabilization, mental health care and water and sanitation support. We also took part in the cholera vaccination campaign led by the World Health Organization and the health authorities.
In Gutu district, we performed close to 6,000 cervical cancer screenings in six health centers. More than 13,000 girls aged 10 to 15 were vaccinated against human papillomavirus, a leading cause of cervical cancer. In 2019, nearly 200 women received cancer treatment.
In September, after three years supporting the health authorities to scale up access to HIV and tuberculosis treatment in Mwenezi, one of the most remote districts in rural Zimbabwe, we handed over the program to the Ministry of Health and Child Care. At the time of the handover, more than 1,000 patients were receiving treatment for HIV. The 289 patients enrolled in the new delivery model, whereby trained community health workers distribute the antiretroviral medication to patients, were also handed over to the health authorities. Please donate to support our work in Zimbabwe and other countries around the world now.
Assistance for returning migrants
We provided medical services for almost 2,500 returned migrants in a reception centre in Beitbridge, mainly coming from Lindela detention camp in South Africa. We also ran outreach services at informal border crossing points, where we treated more than 2,600 patients.