The National Association of Social Workers of Zimbabwe (NASWZ) joins the world in its fight against novel Corona Virus. NASWZ urges its members in Zimbabwe and sister associations throughout the world and citizens to escalate the fight against Corona Virus by pooling expertise and resources towards preventative public health measures. Social workers are frontline workers in complementing public health interventions and this year’s International Social Workers Day theme – PROMOTING THE IMPORTANCE OF HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS perfectly attests to the need for all Social Workers across the globe and practice areas to join hands and help serve the world. The virus has given us, Social Workers, and those in other professions a strong reason to find each and collaboratively work together if we are to effectively, “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all.
On 31 December 2019, the world woke up to a shocking discovery of an “unusual pneumonia”, later to be termed Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19/2019-nCov) in Wuhan, China. By the 9th of March 2020, the virus had spread to 87 countries, infecting 109 695 people and killing 3 811 people, 3 045 of which are in China. Due to the magnitude of its casualties and the speed of infection with which the virus is spreading within its host and across boundaries, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a, “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.” NASWZ therefore joins in spirit and word the declaration by the Director General of the World Health Organization that,
“We don’t know what sort of damage this virus could do if it were to spread in a country with a weaker health system. We must act now to help countries prepare for that possibility. For all these reasons, I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of novel corona virus. The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries. Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems and which are ill prepared to deal with it”
Zimbabwe, like many other developing countries, is already struggling with a resource constrained health care system. It is rumours and lack of knowledge on COVID-19 that is worsening the vulnerability of citizens in Zimbabwe and most citizens in the developing world. It is the lack of community informed participation, fear and perceptions that need to be addressed if Zimbabwe and other developing countries are to pro-actively detect, isolate and effectively treat cases of Corona Virus. It is an overhaul of the people’s attitudes, cultural practices and public policies that will escalate the fight against the crisis. NASWZ is aware of the recent discovery and confirmation of COVID – 19 in at least 9 African countries including Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria and South Africa. The Association applauds these countries for pro-activeness in the detection and isolation of patients and urge the rest of Africa to escalate detection and preventative measures as a strategy to ring-fence their people. Such is the picture that best summarizes the urgency for professionals to join hands and fight the virus.
It is in this context that NASWZ believes and commits to facilitate public conscientization programs, strengthening multi-disciplinary collaborations and advocacy work as levers in enhancing the resilience and preparedness of governments, citizens and development partners in countries with weak health care systems.
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