Government should urgently provide suitable and adequate PPE to frontline health workers

The Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) is gravely concerned by the current  massive shortage of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for frontline health workers  in the country in the wake of the infectious COVID-19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc  globally. Healthcare workers rely on PPE to protect themselves and their patients from  being infected and infecting others during their course of duty.  

Surprisingly, the shortages come at a time when our COVID-19 cases are escalating due  to the deadly second wave of transmission, spike in mortality rates and the threat of the  highly contagious new strain of COVID-19. It is sad and very worrying to hear that  nurses at Sally Mugabe hospital have downed tools citing the unavailability of PPE, a  move that could plunge the country’s COVID-19 response deeper into the doldrums.  The government should urgently equip medical staff with PPE and offering them safe  transport to and from work daily. 

It must be noted that shortages of PPEs have left doctors, nurses and other  frontline health workers dangerously exposed and ill-equiped to take care of the  increasing COVID-19 patients or suspects because of their limited access to  supplies such as gloves, masks, aprons, respirators, goggles and gowns. The  COVID-19 response cannot be done without valuing and protecting our health  workers. It is worrying to hear that some health workers are being given just one mask  for the whole week, despite the fact some are intended for one-time use and disposal.  There have also been reports of some health workers sharing same gown with some  reusing PPEs over prolonged periods.  

The government must do everything within its means to avail PPEs to health workers  because failure to do so would lead to unprecedented levels of burnout and disease. This  would cripple the health system’s ability to continue caring for the sick and putting an  end to the pandemic. 

Itai Rusike (Mr) 

Executive Director 

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH)