HARARE, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- In its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zimbabwe is facing the challenge of a slowing vaccination rate which could derail achievements made to date in curbing the pandemic, Zimbabwean Vice President and Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga warned Wednesday.
The government announced a new COVID-19 response structure headed by Chiwenga, as part of efforts to fortify the national response mechanism.
In a statement announcing the new structure Wednesday, Chiwenga called for heightened efforts from all Zimbabweans and sectors of the economy in fighting the pandemic.
"The national response has however faced a number of challenges. Recently, the momentum of the vaccination program seems to have gone down in a number of provinces," Chiwenga said. "The magnitude and duration of the three pandemic waves experienced so far have worsened with each wave. These challenges and program gaps are a clear indication that despite the many achievements recorded so far, we still need to do much, much more if we are to prevent or subdue a potentially bigger and longer fourth wave."
Addressing these challenges and gaps calls for enhanced participation and response ownership by provincial and district teams from all sectors of the economy and not just from the health sector, said Chiwenga.
According to him, the Cabinet at its meeting Tuesday revised the country's response structure in order to consolidate the gains that have been made so far and strengthen the national response in order to address remaining challenges.
The Ministerial COVID-19 Taskforce chaired by him had now been expanded to include provincial affairs ministers and provincial medical directors to ensure that all areas are given priority in fighting the pandemic.
"The overall aim of the new Ministerial Committee is to lead the country's COVID-19 initiatives at national, provincial and district level for a strengthened, well-coordinated, efficient and effective national response that is based on best practices, lessons learned and is driven by science," Chiwenga said.
As of Tuesday, Zimbabwe had recorded 132,347 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 126,621 recoveries and 4,659 deaths.
A total of 3,234,589 people in the country have also received their first jabs and 2,493,994 their second and final doses.