Zimbabwean officials concerned over lack of COVID-19 statistics

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People walk along a street in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 27, 2020. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday announced a 21-day national lockdown starting from Monday as part of the measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuliang)
People walk along a street in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 27, 2020. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday announced a 21-day national lockdown starting from Monday as part of the measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuliang)

Zimbabwean health officials have alleged that some private and public hospitals are not providing the government with COVID-19 statistics, government-controlled media reported Sunday.

This could mean that cases of COVID-19 are being under-reported and giving a false picture of what is prevailing on the ground.

The Sunday Mail reported that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health has described the situation as scandalous and unacceptable as it affects the government’s ability to plan.

Head of monitoring and evaluation in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Robert Mudyiradima and the director of epidemiology and disease control Portia Manangazira told the committee that some private hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo have not been providing the relevant data.

Committee chairperson Ruth Labode said it was unacceptable for private hospitals to “play such games” and urged the government to take action against them.

Manangazira later told the paper that both private and public institutions were culpable.

“There is under-reporting in general across the board even in our own institutions, and yet we would want our reporting to reflect the national picture of COVID-19.

“At times there are delays, maybe the five cases that will have been taken today are reported late. Sometimes it is a question of the arrangement around the compilation of statistics at the institution,” she said.

Manangazira said under the Public Health Act, private institutions do not manage infectious and formidable diseases.

“We then expect that when a public health crisis is an emergency of international and national concern, it is managed in those institutions plus the public health sector.

“What happened with COVID-19 is that it really became an enormous crisis and the private sector came forward to say we want to assist. So for the first time they started managing public health emergency. It would naturally take them time to develop up-to-date reporting into the national reporting system,” she said. Enditem

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