AN ongoing United Kingdom Government (UK) five-year US$168.8 million health programme in Zimbabwe has seen the health sector offering uninterrupted essential health services despite the COVID-19 crisis.
By Michael Gwarisa
The UK as a major donor in the health sector also provided US$50 million in 2020 to Zimbabwe through the Health Development Fund (HDF), Global Vaccines Alliance (GAVI) and The Global Fund.
Speaking to HealthTimes, the UK’s Development Director for Zimbabwe, Cate Turton said the support from the UK government was also aimed at equipping primary healthcare workers where majority of vulnerable citizens seek health services.
I am really proud of what the UK has done and continues to do to support Zimbabweans through COVID-19. We already have an ongoing five-year £130m ($168.6m) health programme in Zimbabwe: Supporting a Resilient Health System programme.
“This was started in May 2017 and runs until March 2022. It aims to deliver quality sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition services to 5.4 million women and children in Zimbabwe. The support has been aimed at the workers at primary care level of the health system where the poor and most vulnerable are exposed,” said Turton.
At the onset of COVID-19 the UK rapidly reprogrammed £21.24 ($27.6) million to provide critical support to primary health care ensuring that vital services like immunisations, pre and post-natal care and treatment for malnutrition could continue.
“The UK’s COVID-19 support to Zimbabwe is also providing crucial broadcast messaging, child support, support for frontline workers, water sanitation and hygiene improvement in schools and health facilities, community outreach and humanitarian food and cash aid to help mitigate the crisis on the poorest and most vulnerable.
“This support is channelled through trusted partners, including UNICEF, WHO, UNDP and the World Food Programme. It was clear that Zimbabwe was facing a severe economic and humanitarian crisis before the pandemic. The virus is only making the situation more acute by compounding existing vulnerabilities and impeding the delivery of key services.”
At the peak of the COVID-19 in Zimbabwe in July, the UK also funded the procurement of Oxygen concentrators filter air to deliver purified oxygen to patients to be used in treating COVID19 in Zimbabwe. The delivery was part of the Health Development Fund (HDF) that is managed by UNECEF while the 968 solar direct refrigerators were procured by GAVI at a tune of US$3, 444, 828.15 Million.
The HDF is funded by the United Kingdom DFID, European Union (EU), Irish Aid, and the Global Vaccines Alliance (GAVI). The UK also stepped in to assist frontline and village health workers through provision of 2 000 new bicycles to help them access remote and hard to reach areas during the COVID-19 period. A total 2,523 village health workers were also trained on active screening with funding from DFID in Zimbabwe.