Zimbabwe: Village Health Workers Lack Personal Protective Equipment

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Village health workers who are also engaged in disseminating information on the novel coronavirus in rural Matabeleland are at risk of infection as they perform their primary health role with limited personal protective equipment.

These essential service providers have been playing a pivotal role in bridging the information gap that exists in rural communities. These village health workers have helped communities to cope with the prevailing public health situation. They have been working tirelessly to ensure that communities are kept abreast with information on COVID-19 and preventative measures.

In most areas health workers reportedly assist in enforcing social distancing and ensure compliance to lockdown regulations to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

However, these health para-professionals have been working with limited protective equipment, some without facemasks or disposable gloves. Most have been using improvised facemasks while others managed to acquire some few protective pieces of equipment from local health institutions.

Speaking to Habakkuk Trust recently, village health workers in various parts of Matabeleland explained their roles as primary health caregivers in rural communities during the current fight against the novel coronavirus. They, however, lamented the lack of protective equipment that may expose them or the community they serve to COVID-19.

Portia Ndlovu from Mangwe Ward 1 explained that they sometimes do home visits, constantly reminding villagers of COVID-19 and the safety precautionary measures.

"At times we get information from our health institutions which we share with our fellow villagers either during home visits, at food distribution programmes and at times at water points."

In Matobo some village health workers received trainings on COVID-19 and they have been cascading the information down to other community members.

Community members have commended the work of village health workers at a time when public gatherings are and other community channels of information dissemination are not accessible.

Habakkuk Trust is encouraging the government and well-wishers to remember and provide assistance for village health workers to have protective clothing as they conduct their work.

Source: Habakkuk Trust

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