Community perspectives on the covid-19 response, zimbabwe [Perspectives communautaires dans la lutte contre la covid-19 au zimbabwe] [Opiniones de la comunidad sobre la respuesta a la covid-19, zimbabue]

02 June 2021

Objective To investigate community and health-care workers' perspectives on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and on early pandemic responses during the first 2 weeks of national lockdown in Zimbabwe. Methods Rapid qualitative research was carried out between March and April 2020 via phone interviews with one representative from each of four community-based organizations and 16 health-care workers involved in a trial of community-based services for young people. In addition, information on COVID-19 was collected from social media platforms, news outlets and government announcements. Data were analysed thematically. Findings Four themes emerged: (i) individuals were overloaded with information but lacked trusted sources, which resulted in widespread fear and unanswered questions; (ii) communities had limited ability to comply with prevention measures, such as social distancing, because access to long-term food supplies and water at home was limited and because income had to be earned daily; (iii) health-care workers perceived themselves to be vulnerable and undervalued because of a shortage of personal protective equipment and inadequate pay; and (iv) other health conditions were sidelined because resources were redirected, with potentially wide-reaching implications. Conclusion It is important that prevention measures against COVID-19 are appropriate for the local context. In Zimbabwe, communities require support with basic needs and access to reliable information to enable them to follow prevention measures. In addition, health-care workers urgently need personal protective equipment and adequate salaries. Essential health-care services and medications for conditions other than COVID-19 must also continue to be provided to help reduce excess mortality and morbidity.