Don’t neglect other diseases: WHO

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THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on the government and development partners to improve their response to other diseases which have been neglected due to the country’s focus on containing the spread of the lethal coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
This comes as the country has recorded 8 187 Covid-19 cases, 7 692 recoveries and 233 deaths, with various stakeholders applauding the government’s efforts in containing the spread of the virus in Zimbabwe.

Speaking on the side-lines of a donation of medical supplies to the State recently, WHO Zimbabwe country representative Alex Gasasira said the treatment of other diseases in the country had faced a major
setback owing to the focus on Covid-19.

“The focus on Covid-19 has had an adverse impact on the delivery of other essential health services. We are happy that the ministry of Health and Child Care and its development partners have recognised this. They should therefore do anything that is possible to reverse the adverse impact on the delivery of other essential health
services.

“We know that in major outbreaks it’s other diseases which claim the largest number of lives. So, the focus on ensuring continued delivery of essential health services is really the right thing that must get the attention that it deserves,” Gasasira said.

He added that while the country had managed to contain the spread of Covid-19, there was still need for people to continue adhering to the mitigation measures to avoid a resurgence. This comes as countries such as the United Kingdom, Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Montenegro, and North Macedonia are now recording higher case
numbers than they did earlier in the year, forcing them to implement stricter lockdown measures.

“The people of Zimbabwe have heeded the call and complied with the measures to reduce transmission. These measures …included physical distancing, and hygiene, limiting travel and wearing of masks. All of these factors have contributed to the reduction of the number of new cases that Zimbabwe has recorded.

“So, the most important lesson now is that we have to continue complying with these measures. Several countries in the African region and even beyond in Europe and America are experiencing resurgence and how does resurgence come? It comes about when we give the virus an opportunity to spread.

“So, the fact that we are having a reduced number of cases does not mean we should relax. We should continue with
physical distancing, hand hygiene and to the extent that is possible limit our travel to when it’s absolutely necessary,” Gasasira said.

“If we are complacent, we will experience resurgence. We are seeing this in other countries. So yes, we have been at this for many months and yes, people may be tired, but every life we can save by implementing the preventive measures is an important life. So, my message to the Zimbabwean people is let us continue to comply with the
preventive measures until we have a vaccine. It is only when we have a vaccine that we can relax,” he added.

Meanwhile, Gasasira called for increased efforts in ensuring stronger cancer services as Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in celebrating the cancer awareness month of October.

“Cancer is a non-communicable disease and non-communicable diseases all over the world, including in our developing countries, now account for the highest number of deaths.

“So, the importance of this month is to raise awareness about this important condition, to appreciate the efforts that are already being taken to address cancers and to mobilise additional support. So, it’s really a good opportunity for us to take stock of where we are and even strengthen cancer services.

“Zimbabwe has a national cancer policy and strategy which is something that we do recommend and this is the basis which the government, through its partners — including the WHO and others — can rally around and ensure stronger cancer services. So, good effort has begun and we need to strengthen the efforts,” he said.

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