Zimbabweans opt for citizen power to equip health facilities

Zimbabweans opt for citizen power to equip health facilities

Alarmed by the government’s casual approach to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Zimbabweans are scrambling to raise resources to refurbish and re-equip hospitals to handle patients in a last-ditch effort to prevent mass deaths.

Zimbabwe has recorded 11 cases of coronavirus or COVID-19 with three fatalities, but experts say health authorities are not testing enough people or carrying out adequate contact tracing to contain the spread of the virus.

The death of prominent broadcaster Zororo Makamba on March 23, who became the first person to die from the virus, exposed the country’s lack of preparedness to handle the highly infectious disease and it has jolted private individuals and companies into action.

Mr. Makamba, the 30-year-old son of a wealthy businessman with links to the ruling Zanu-PF party, died because the country’s only isolation center for coronavirus patients lacked a ventilator and oxygen and even after his family found a ventilator, the hospital had no suitable socket to plug it in, much to the chagrin of his family, who are blaming the government for his death.

After Mr. Makamba’s death, the facility was closed for 18 days to allow for renovations funded to the tune of $500,000 by the Chinese business community in Zimbabwe.

Strive Masiyiwa, a Zimbabwe-born billionaire who early this year helped end a four-month-long strike by doctors over poor pay by offering them a $300 monthly subsistence allowance, has taken the lead in helping the country prepare for a wider outbreak of the coronavirus.