PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday saluted healthcare workers for their sterling and relentless work in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, at the same time warning the nation not to be complacent in case a fourth wave of the deadly pandemic strikes.
In his speech honouring the country’s frontline healthcare workers post the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the President said the Second Republic remains committed to addressing the conditions of service of healthcare workers in addition to the various interventions and incentives it has awarded them along with other civil servants.
“My Government is committed to continuously address the conditions of service for healthcare workers. I am confident that the nation will emerge victorious and avert the fourth wave.
“If the pandemic forces its way on us, it must find our nation prepared. That way, we will be able to minimise cases and lower deaths,” he said.
To contain the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government announced a Level 4 lockdown which included limiting social gatherings, a ban on intercity travel, closure of face-to-face learning, and a dusk to dawn curfew.
With deaths and infections falling, last week President Mnangagwa relaxed the lockdown to Level 2 and encouraged the nation to embrace the ongoing vaccination programme which is free of charge.
In his address yesterday, President Mnangagwa said since the declaration of Covid-19 as a national disaster on March 18, 2020, Zimbabwe took strides towards awareness campaigns, prevention, surveillance, contact tracing, and testing for the disease.
To date, Zimbabwe has recorded 5 366 deaths of which 24 were healthcare workers.
“Allow me to acknowledge and appreciate the relentless fight put forward by our healthcare workers against this pandemic. Indeed, the perseverance, resilience and commitment demonstrated by the healthcare workers since the first wave of Covid-19 in March 2020 to date is remarkable,” said President Mnangagwa.
He noted that during the third wave of the pandemic, there had been an increase in the number of staff members who tested positive, compared to the first and second waves of the pandemic.
President Mnangagwa expressed his deep, heartfelt condolences to families of those who lost their lives while on duty and invited the nation to join him in observing a minute of silence in commiserating with those healthcare workers who lost their loved ones.
He described them as gallant and brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives to save their country.
“Government has been making all efforts to improve the conditions of service for the healthcare workers in order to retain staff and to stabilise the sector. Our thrust, has been to ensure that healthcare workers are competitively remunerated; have adequate tools of trade; have decent accommodation and, are provided with reliable transport.
Various strategies have been implemented to motivate and retain healthcare workers, among them, prioritised vaccination programme of all health care workers, allowances specific to the health sector, Covid-19 allowances, duty-free vehicle importation scheme, civil service vehicle loan scheme, a housing revolving fund through the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities, institutional accommodation and, Covid-19 employers’ liability insurance cover for healthcare workers in case of deaths and illness,” said President Mnangagwa.
He noted that since the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus in Asia in 2019, the disease has spread to every continent.
The pandemic, said President Mnangagwa, was much more than a health crisis as it negatively impacted the social and economic spheres of the world reversing gains made in the health sector.
“Many nations are in turmoil. Zimbabwe, like many other countries, has not been spared from the unprecedented scourge, as we witnessed a sharp increase in the number of infection cases and deaths to levels we had not anticipated,” he said.