Cholera Elimination Roadmap and Public Health Emergency Operations Center Launched In Zimbabwe

HEALTH and Child Care Minister, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has officially launched the Zimbabwe the Cholera Elimination Roadmap (2018-2028) and the Public Health Emergency Operations Center (PHEOC).

By Michael Gwarisa

Officiating at the launch event, VP Chiwenga said even though the launch of the Cholera elimination roadmap comes two years into the tenure of the Plan,  implementation of the National Cholera Elimination Strategic Plan has been ongoing, since year 2018.

This includes a thorough evaluation of the programme, by the Independent Review Panel of the Global Taskforce for Cholera Control. I am therefore proud to have been informed by the World Health Organization that Zimbabwe is among the first countries to have its programme reviewed by this prestigious panel of cholera experts.

“This means that the document we are celebrating and launching here today, has been peer-reviewed and earned a global stamp of approval as a national plan of action towards ending cholera. It is sad to note that cholera has remained one of the public health challenges in Zimbabwe, as was witnessed during the Cholera Outbreak of 2008-9,” said VP Chiwenga.

He added that government was making commendable strides towards attaining set health and development milestones and the ministry is spearheading multiple initiatives and programmes to improve the livelihoods of all Zimbabweans.

“Among the major threats to public health in the country, are outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging diseases and pandemics such as Typhoid, Diarrhoea, Cholera and lately the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the birth of its statehood in 1980, Zimbabwe’s health system has been premised on Primary Health Care.  Primary Health Care forms the bedrock on which universal health coverage can be achieved.

“In conformity with the Government’s commitment to build a resilient and robust health care delivery system, my Ministry embarked on a multi-faceted Restructuring Programme. Its focus is on enhancing accessibility of health care facilities and ensuring that “no-one is left behind.” The Ministry is also exploring the digitalisation of health care systems in the country, a vision that is pursuant to achieving Sustainable Development Goals.”

He also said through guidance by the World Health Organisation’s building blocks for resilient and sustainable health systems, the ministry also drew a strategy that is aimed at addressing the current health workforce, supply, infrastructural, equipment and other structural challenges.

“The effort is congruent with the nation’s health and development pathway articulated in the National Development Strategy. Public health issues remain at the core of national development, because without the well-being of citizens and development, there cannot be security.

“Zimbabwe cherishes the importance of anticipation, early-detection, planning and swift-response for disaster emergencies.  Equally important is the requirement for an identifiable physical centre for the coordination of outbreak responses with clarity on the response teams’ roles and responsibilities. This brings us to the official launch of the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre, which is housed here at the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals. This strategic institution evolved from the Cholera Command and Control Centre.”

Meanwhile, speaking on the the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre, he said it is adequately spacious to accommodate all health disaster, under the “One health initiative.”

“This means that teams from Animal Health, Water and Sanitation Hygiene and other determinants of disasters emergencies can all work together under one roof to adequately abate public health. This is the unity of purpose that is required to combat major threats to public health. Hopefully, the unison will add impetus to the set goal of eliminating Cholera.

“With regards to Covid 19, the country has not been spared from the horrendous effects of the pandemic. However, I am happy to inform you that we launched the National Preparedness and Response Plan for Covid-19 on 19 March 2020. The Plan was operationalised before confirmation of the first case in the country. A National Lockdown, declaration of the disaster, activation of the whole Government Response Mechanisms and enforcement of Preventive Measures are some of the timely interventions that were instituted.”

He also said Zimbabwe is keenly following researches and development of vaccines in an effort to find long-term solutions to combat Covid 19 and the ministry is however, aware of the uncertainties surrounding the SARS-COV 2 Virus vaccines.

“Some adverse effects were reported in the few countries that have so far accessed the COVAX Vaccine. Our Team of Experts, drawn from the Epidemiology Directorate, Immunisation Programme, with support from the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group and the Medicines Control Authority have been keenly following the developments. A Readiness Assessment was conducted to ensure that only approved vaccines without side-effects will be administered to our citizens.

“I therefore, appreciate the constellation of key government ministries, which supported my Ministry to craft the Cholera Elimination Plan 2018-2028. Most notably, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation Science and Technology Development, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Settlement.”

He also applauded the support rendered to my Ministry by strategic private partners which include y Higher Life Foundation and the World Health Organization, among other private partners who share a common vision of a “Cholera Free Zimbabwe.”

 

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