Authors: Edward T. Chiyaka, George Chingarande, Tafadzwa Dzinamarira, Grant Murewanhema, Roda Madziva, Helena Herrera, and Godfrey Musuka
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has exposed the unpreparedness of governments in their capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging infectious diseases. Many healthcare systems have been overburdened and the coordinated efforts in different countries have focused on containment and mitigation, with varying degrees of success. A delay in the detection of and response to infectious diseases can lead to the overburdening of already challenged health systems. Containment strategies, such as social distancing, contact tracing, quarantining of exposed individuals and lockdowns, can help control the spread of the infection in communities. Still, long-term solutions should be sought to counter future outbreaks. In this paper, we focus on Zimbabwe to identify and discuss public health strategies that can result in an effective response to future infectious disease outbreaks. We consider potential solutions to facilitate early detection, control, and mitigation of any similar emerging infectious disease. We argue that sustained financial support in public health infrastructure, both locally and nationally, integrated surveillance response systems, and improved communication and research within and across public and private sectors can be instrumental in limiting the damage caused by future outbreaks.