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Parliamentary Portfolio Committee of Health Chair allays fears of teenage pregnancies after lockdown

Honourable Dr Ruth Labode has raised fears that Zimbabwe could witness a rise in teenage pregnancies after the lockdown citing that the impact of the post covid-19 extended lockdown “will not be a good one.”

Dr Labode said this during a radio programme on Skyz Metro FM on 22 May 2020. Mpilo Hospital Senior Medical Resident Officer Melisa Bhebe also participated in the programme.

“The extended lockdown will have terrible effects on sexual reproductive health rights as children are engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse and this means there will be a rise in unsafe abortions and teenage pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases,” she said.

Dr Labode said Zimbabwe’s lockdown was improperly planned as no consideration was made on how citizens will access healthcare services during the lockdown.

“We did not consider how citizens with hypertension, diabetes, children who should be immunised, persons living with HIV will access ARVs. We did not think of these issues and how people will access medical services in town or in central hospitals when police are manning roadblocks. If we are not careful, children who have missed their immunisation will suffer from measles,” she said

Dr Labode said the decentralisation of the testing centres was also poorly executed which is Mpilo Central Hospital has stopped testing COVID-19 samples due to lack of PCR testing kits. She also said Zimbabwe neglected the fact that most citizens “live from hand to mouth,” and during the lockdown, poverty levels will increase.

“Post COVID-19,  we will see the resurfacing of marasmus and  kwashiorkor,” said Dr Labode.

Dr Labode said one of the biggest challenges at the moment is that Parliament  was on recess and this has allowed certain sectors of the economy to receive donations without oversights and a lot of money coming from donors is not being accounted for.

Dr Bhebe a senior medical resident officer at Mpilo Hospital said health care workers have been strong figures of hope and faith to the communities because hospital doors remained open even when staff first learnt of the COVID-19, they continued to take care of patients despite the panic.

“Health care workers have also been providing education sessions via outreach programmes  to communities. However, the pandemic has strained the healthcare system such that our weaknesses have been exposed and if it hits us, it kill thousands of people because we are not well equipped,” she said.

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