Some members of Seke Rural Home Based Care are appealing for Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to enable them to carry out their duties without fear of getting Covid-19.
Speaking to the Herald at the side lines of the Grassroots Women Resilience Building National Convention workshop in Harare on Tuesday, the home based care givers said unavailability of PPEs was putting them at risk of contracting diseases including Covid-19 thereby affecting voluntary work.
They now only attend to few patients as compared to periods before the outbreak of Covid-19.
"We look after the elderly, orphans and people living with HIV and our duty is to visit them and offer the utmost supportive care so that they can lead a decent life. Due to Covid-19 movement restrictions that were aimed at reducing further spread of the disease, we lost several members who were living with HIV because some defaulted in taking their anti-retroviral drugs. Depression was also rife because they also lacked counselling services since everyone was now locked indoors," said Alice Lutwaba of Ward 7.
Another home based care giver, Avis Kupara said they are now using other means to protect themselves to reduce cases of horizontal and vertical transmission of diseases between them and patients.
"We are appealing to potential donors to kindly assist with the requisite materials such as gloves, soap, sanitizers, protective clothing's like those used by nurses such that we do not infect or get infected by Covid-19 when attending to patients at home," she said.
She added that during the first phase of the lockdown they lost three youthful members who were HIV positive and defaulted on ARVs.
"Being a care giver should be a calling and I have the passion of imparting information on health. I joined the profession a couple of years ago and our major challenges are those of mobility. We do not have transport facilities to use when visiting patients. If we can be provided with motor cycles and PPEs, our lives would me much easier," she said.
Kupara encouraged communities to take HIV testing seriously.
The Director of the Seke Rural Home Based Care Facility, Mrs Veronica Ngwerume said the area has more than 4 000 orphans. Some of the orphans are infected and affected by HIV and they need their support.
She said following the Covid-19 outbreak in the country vulnerable community members were hard hit by economic and health challenges.
"Some hospitals and clinics were not fully operational hence life became hard for those with chronic illnesses. We had to form WhatsApp groups in order to make communication with our members easy. They needed our services which were cut short by the effects of Covid-19."
She said the relaxation of some restrictions resulted in them resuming their duties as caregivers.
"We have embarked on some climate change resilience building programmes with the support from the Zimbabwe Parents of Handicapped Children educating communities on the importance of market gardening initiatives and value addition concept to make sure that nutritional food is adequately available," she said.
Mrs Theresa Makwara the National Coordinator of the ZPHCA encouraged grassroots women to support each other in the resilience-building journey.
"I encourage grassroots women to unite. I acknowledge that they are facing various challenges because of the combined impacts of climate change, COVID-19, and economic hardships. Despite the challenges, the women are not losing hope nor are they giving up or writing off their dreams, visions, and aspirations. Grassroots women are playing important roles as mothers, caregivers, breadwinners, and food producers," she said.
Headman Mungate Murape of Goromonzi District, Domboshava said Covid-19 is real hence people should not turn a blind eye from expert advice.
"In my area, I conduct meetings advising my people on the effects of Covid-19 and all the prevention measures they should take such as handwashing with soap and clean running water, social distancing. At my gate you will find buckets filled with water for handwashing. No one is allowed in my yard before washing their hands. The culture of shaking hands is now history because there are alternative methods like clapping hands from afar. Even at our Chief's courts have since reduced the attendance numbers," he said.