Mukudzei Chingwere Herald Reporter
THE Government is ready to introduce Covid-19 self-testing mainly at ports of entry and in remote areas as part of continuous, thorough and effective response to the global pandemic to minimise its effects on citizens.
The development has been endorsed by experts as noble and timeous.
Zimbabwe has already set the precedent with HIV self-testing, but global Covid-19 experts prefer to have the results documented on the national database to assist the country’s response mechanism.
Speaking after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Acting Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Dr Jenfan Muswere, said the Government was ready to introduce self-testing for Covid-19.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care is ready to introduce Covid-19 self-test kits, mainly at points of entry and remote areas, in order to ramp up testing in all communities,” he said.
“All provinces will continue strengthening implementation of public health and social measures as part of the new normal and of keeping Covid-19 in check.”
Dr Raiva Simbi, an expert in the Ministry of Health who is part of the team that advises Government on Covid-19, told The Herald that the latest move was welcome.
He said the World Health Organisation had already approved self-testing and “for Zimbabwe it is very critical because we have now gotten into our winter season and we are going to get non-Covid-19 related influenza”.
“So, to avert Covid-19 cases, we just need to make sure that everyone knows their status. The most important thing for self-testing is that the data is captured.
“As Government, we have been working on the systems to make sure self-testing is done in a smooth manner. It is not the first time we have approved self-testing, we have done so with HIV,” said Dr Simbi.
On Monday, Zimbabwe recorded 113 new Covid-19 infections and two deaths. All the infections were local transmissions.
As of yesterday, there were 41 hospitalised cases, two of them being new admissions.
Of the hospitalised cases, 0ne was asymptomatic, 37 mild to moderate, three were severe and no one was in the intensive care units.
But critically, 14 of the 41 hospitalised were vaccinated while 27 were not vaccinated.
As of yesterday, Zimbabwe had 1 927 active cases.
Since 2020 when the first Covid-19 case was recorded, Zimbabwe has recorded 254 387 cases, 246 935 recoveries and 5 525 deaths.
The vaccination drive continues, with 1 411 receiving their first dose yesterday, bringing cumulative for first dose to 6 253 922, while 2 004 got their second dose bringing the total for second dose to 4 587 847.
An additional 1 246 received their third dose, bringing cumulative for third dose to 846 132.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe and Egypt are set to resuscitate economic cooperation for the mutual benefit of both countries under the banner of Zimbabwe-Egypt Joint Permanent Commission on Corporation.
This follows Vice President and Health and Child Care Minister, Dr Constantino Chiwenga’s visit to Egypt for the Fourth Ordinary Session of the African Union Specialised Technical Committee on Health, Population and Drug Control and the First African Medical Conference and Exhibition (Africa Health Excon).
VP Chiwenga took advantage of his visit to engage the Egyptian Prime Minister and their Minister of Health and Population, as well as representatives of Intrapharma, the central Egyptian pharmaceuticals company, on the establishment of a 50-50 joint venture pharmaceutical company as an import substitution programme in line with the local content strategy.
The conferences deliberated on ensuring equitable access to health technologies, pharmaceuticals and healthcare services.
Highlights included the concerns raised over the increasing incidents of drug abuse in Africa, which is negatively impacting the continent’s economic growth.
VP Chiwenga highlighted, the need for human capacity development, self-sufficiency in pharmaceuticals and equipment manufacturing, improvement in water, sanitation and hygiene, addressing issues of substance abuse among the youth, and emergency medicine response and planning.
Said Minister Muswere yesterday: “Engagements with the Egyptian Prime Minister, Minister of Health and Population, and Intrapharma are expected to result in the relevant memoranda of understanding being signed soon.
“A tour of the Egyptian New Administrative City, which the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care undertook, provided invaluable insights which will be incorporated in the development of Zimbabwe’s own new city in Mt Hampden.
“A Joint Permanent Commission between Zimbabwe and Egypt will be reconvened to give impetus to areas of cooperation in the fields of health and pharmaceuticals, construction and agriculture, among others.”
Cabinet also received a report on the First Ordinary Session of the State Parties of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) presented by VP Chiwenga.
Minister Muswere said the First Ordinary Session of the Conference of State Parties of AMA was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from June 1 to 3.
“The meeting discussed the following: rules of procedure of the Conference of State Parties (CoSP); election of the Bureau of the CoSP to the AMA Treaty; and Assessment Report on the hosting of the AMA headquarters.
“Zimbabwe is offering to be considered to host the Regional Centre of Excellence for the Southern Africa Region,” said Minister Muswere.