THE Ministry of Health and Care (MoHCC) has received a donation of medical equipment from the United Kingdom (UK) government and Northern Ireland and the United Nations (UN) donor agencies, through support from the Japanese government that will improve the management of COVID-19 as well as maternal healthcare services in the country’s healthcare system.
Through the US$1.3 million that was mobilized the by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) from the Government of Japan, the MoHCC received eight ambulances, anaesthetic machines, operating tables, delivery tables, ICU beds, infusion pumps, examination lights, Anti-Shock garments, umbilical clamps, Urinary Protein Test Strips, Doppler foetal heart monitor and midwifery kits among others. The equipment is aimed at strengthening the referral system for pregnant mothers and support emergency obstetric and neonatal care (EmONC) in COVID-19 hotspots of Harare and Bulawayo.
UNICEF handed over cold chain equipment procured through the Government of Japan support valued at US$665 817. The cold chain equipment comprise of 70 ice-lined refrigerators, 80 Solar Direct Drive refrigerators, 499 vaccine carriers and 130 cold boxes (on transit). The UK government also handed over US$330,000 worth of vital medical equipment to help tackle these mainly include ventilation equipment to help COVID-19 patients.
In his acceptance speech, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr John Mangwiro said the donation from the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was a key component in treatment of COVID-19 and will go a long way in the treatment and management of patients diagnosed with the disease.
This donation of case management equipment valued at 250 000 GB Pounds (US$340 191) comprises of 100 Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) UCL Ventura machines, 1 008 Pulse Oximeters, Breathing Filter CPAP, Exhalation Port, Electrostatic Heat Moisture Exchanger (HMEF), Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV) Mask (Large), Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV) Mask (Medium) and Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV) Mask (Small) will be used to equip these Isolation Centres,” said Dr Mangwiro.
He also paid tribute to the UNFPA for their continued support in the management of maternal healthcare services.
“The Government of Zimbabwe would like to thank the United Nations Population Fund for mobilising US$1.3 million from the Government of Japan to support the strengthening of emergency obstetric and neonatal care (EmONC) in COVID-19 hotspots of Harare and Bulawayo,” said Dr Mangwiro.
UK Embassy to Zimbabwe Development Director, Geraldine O’Callaghan said, “Since the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, the British Embassy in Harare provided over US$27 Million to respond to the pandemic in Zimbabwe including through support of the national COVID-19 preparedness response, PPE procurement, surveillance and contract tracing risk communication and community engagement.
“Our commitment to support Zimbabwe is mirrored by our global commitment to tackling the pandemic. The UK is the largest donor to the international response and we committed up to US$1.37 Billion to UK Aid to address the impact of COVID-19. The consignment we are here to hand over today contains ventilation equipment. This equipment will help COVID-19 patients experiencing respiratory challenges and hopefully preventing COVID-19 related deaths.”
Speaking on the donated equipment to manage maternal healthcare services, Ambassador of Japan to Zimbabwe, H.E. Mr Satoshi Tanaka said he hoped his Government’s contribution would support efforts to end maternal deaths.
“I hope that Japan’s support through this project will protect the lives of mothers and their new-borns during this crisis, and further contribute to a health system that is robust enough to withstand future crises,” said the Ambassador of Japan to Zimbabwe, H.E. Mr Satoshi Tanaka
Annually, there are an estimated 15,000 and 45,000 deliveries in Bulawayo and Harare respectively. Of these about 9,000 (15%) women have obstetric complications and require access to emergency obstetric care services. An estimated 60,000 women will be reached through these interventions.
“We are very grateful for the support from the Government of Japan which has already begun making a difference in the lives of women; this support will certainly be the difference between life and death for women giving life,” said UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Esther Muia. “However, a lot more work is still to be done to save the lives of mothers and their babies and as UNFPA, we remain very committed to working with partners such as the Government of Zimbabwe and the Government of Japan who value what we value too – and that is ensuring we end maternal deaths.”
Speaking on the procurement of the cold-chain equipment, UNICEF Representative Dr Tajudeen Oyewale said, “With the ongoing commitment of the Government, the solid availability of vaccine doses, and the support of stakeholders such as the Government of Japan, and other development partners in Health – Zimbabwe will demonstrate what it takes to achieve the targeted immunity against COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Zimbabwe, Dr Alex Gasasira said, “Estimates show that COVID-19 accounted for the highest deaths in the first two months of 2022. This highlights the importance of this donation of equipment to manage severe cases of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe. I believe that this equipment which will be distributed across hospitals in the 10 provinces, will enhance the capacity clinicians to mange severe cases and enhance the capacity of the health system to continue the response and management of COVID-19.”