Zim launches UNICEF-Eli-Lilly initiative to fight pediatric and adolescent NCDs

THE United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) -Eli Lilly initiative to assist the Zimbabwean government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) in the fight against Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in children was launched on Thursday at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

Funded by UNICEF to the tune of US$2.5 million, this four-year project seeks to fortify health systems in the country with its focus being children and adolescents affected by the NCDs.

Officiating the launch, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said Zimbabwe is among the five countries selected to be part of the UNICEF-Eli Lilly project.

“Eli Lilly launched their 30×30 initiative to reach hundreds of thousands of children affected by chronic conditions through a partnership that supports health systems strengthening.

“The initiative aims to research new models of care, report findings, and advocate to scale the most effective solutions to help more people.

“On the UNICEF-Eli Lilly Partnership, 5 countries have been included that is Bangladesh, Malawi, Nepal, Philippines, and Zimbabwe,” he said.

The Deputy Minister also said the project seeks to contribute toward the goal to ensure all children and adolescents with chronic conditions have effective care and treatment including but not limited to Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), Congenital and Rheumatic Heart Disease, Sickle-Cell Disease, and Chronic Respiratory Conditions, e.g. Asthma.

“Our Ministry is committed to tackle and join the global community in order to prevent and control NCDs. We have partnered with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF to address Paediatric NCDs. The Eli-Lilly Project aims to support the government’s health systems so that we reach as many children as we can with such chronic cases. The project was initiated in 2022 and will run for four years. We are one of 5 countries selected to implement this UNICEF-Eli Lilly project in the world,” Dr Mangwiro said.

The Unicef Zimbabwe Chief of Health and Nutrition Dr Alex Adjagba said it was important to address the issue of NCDs in children and adolescents as this would improve the country’s economy.

“The economic impact of chronic diseases is very high. We only focus on what is acute and what we can see now. With UNICEF mandate being to focus on every child and adolescent, we make sure that they have access to essential quality care. Under this project we want to document the economic impact of chronic diseases in Zimbabwe,” he said.

The project’s focal person also Sally Mugabe Children’s Hospital pediatrician Dr Prisca Mureriwa said such an initiative was long overdue.

“This day has come too late. We have been looking forward to this day and we are happy that we are here today. This project as brought pediatric NCDs back on the agenda. We are now talking about children and NCDs and we are happy that we are bringing that to the forefront. Our children deserve the care they need especially if they have chronic conditions. This program the initial phase is going to last us four years. We started late last year and we are hoping it will see us through until 2024,” she said. “The project is going to strengthen our policies on how we take care of our children with chronic diseases.”

Globally, WHO estimates that over 14 million people die every year prematurely from NCDs. It is also estimated that the age-group of 0-2years experienced less than 5 million deaths per year while 30–60 years 14,2 die every year and for the 70-80 age group, 20 million die every year.



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