Zimbabwe’s Top 10 Exceptional Public Health Interventions and Innovations For 2023

Even though Zimbabwe’s healthcare sector is facing challenges, there remains some extraordinary work that the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), development partners, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and individuals are doing to enhance the quality care and services in Zimbabwe’s healthcare sector.

Zimbabwe just like the rest of the world, is recovering from the effects of COVID-19, which to a greater extent disrupted public health interventions such as National Immunisation programs, vaccinations, and health promotion amongst a host of other interventions. Despite these challenges, Zimbabwe has innovated and come up with ways to reach out to various populations with services.

As has become our tradition, annually we honour individuals, organisations, and interventions that would have excelled and gone above and yonder to improve health services in our beloved country. This time around, we are recognising Public Health Interventions that carried the day in 2023.

Below is a list of some of the most outstanding health interventions. Please note that the list is not in any way exhaustive nor is it in particular order.

1. Interventions under the Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI) Program

The Expanded Program on Immunisation in Zimbabwe is headed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care through support from partners including UNICEF, GAVI Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partners. Following to resurgence of Measles in 2022 as well as the growing threat of Polio following its detection in the Southern African region, the EPI programme launched a spirited immunisation campaign to inoculate children under the age of five against these diseases. From October 2022 to about June 2022, Zimbabwe carried out three rounds of Polio vaccination and reached over 2,4 million children under five years. This translates to over 90 percent coverage as 2,6 million children were being targeted during the campaign.  In October 2023, the EPI project launched its fourth round, this time targeting two million children with booster doses as well.

To ascertain the magnitude and existence of the Zero Dose children, the EPI program also conducted the Zero Dose mapping in December 2022 in three major cities of Zimbabwe. Between August and September 2023, they conducted a zero-dose analysis of the review. Having noted the burden of zero-dose children, the EPI program has now introduced Integrated Facility-Based Outreach in line with primary healthcare services. The program has also developed a Catch-up Schedule to guide the healthcare workers in their work.

2.The Community Results-Based Financing Model

village health workers

The Community Results-Based Financing (RBF) model is a Mnistyr of Health project being implemented by Cordaid Zimbabwe in Manicaland- Mutare district, Mashonaland Central- Centenary district, Midlands- Gokwe South district, and Matabeleland South- Mangwe district. It’s being financed by World Bank. The program is being implemented in the 80 rural districts of Zimbabwe, focused on services provided at the primary level of care in rural health centres. With the expanded role of Village Health Workers (VHWs), the program seeks to improve coverage of key indicators through the direct contact of VHWs and other community health workers working closely with the local leadership. This intervention has improved several indicators at primary healthcare level. These include early diagnosis of pregnancy and referral for ANC booking before 12 weeks of gestation, promoting the use of long-acting reversible methods of family planning and referral to the health facility, following up postpartum mother/baby pairs, and referring for postnatal services, working closely with carers and community leaders to identify victims of sexual violence and referring them for post-exposure services within 72 hours among others.

3. The Solar For Health Project

Even though the project kicked off in 2017, the Solar for Health (S4H) projects have left an indelible mark in Zimbabwe’s healthcare sector that will be felt several generations and decades from now. The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) through funding  from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Fund (GF). Apart from reducing operational costs, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas carbon emissions and it contributes to achieving SDGs 3, 7 and 13 in Zimbabwe, the S4H project has also improved operations in Cold Chain systems in hospitals and clinics, maintained consistent power supply in health institutions and Pharmaceutical warehouses among others.

To date, over 1,045 health facilities have had solar systems installed under the S4H initiative. In addition, two massive solar systems were installed at the Medicines Control Authority at Zimbabwe (MCAZ) head office in Harare to support the Chemistry and Microbiology laboratories, and the recently constructed NatPharm Provincial Warehouse in Masvingo. Between He added that the S4H project is being expanded to 19 additional health facilities in 2022/2023.

The solar systems are 5kW, 7kW, 10kW or 40kW, depending on the size of the facility and energy requirements to power specific functions like general lighting, laboratory, pharmaceutical cold chain, and pharmacy. There are plans to increase the power capacity of some of the health facilities whose overall requirements are higher than the current installations.”

The Masvingo NatPharm warehouse has a power rating of 200kW while MCAZ is backed by a 140kW system. Some of the services the solar initiative supports include supporting the supply chain system (laboratory and pharmaceutical procedures), health information systems that allow disease surveillance, patient monitoring and follow-ups, public finance management system and general lighting at health facilities.

4. Electronic Heath Records (EHR)

A health Information Officer at Chivi District Hospital used the Electronic Health Records system

Through Impilo, an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system, Zimbabwe’s healthcare sector has greatly improved efficiency in the health sector through enhancing data collection, management, and patient care as well as improving communication between health practitioners and patients. The system had been rolled into most health facilities across the country by December 2023.

5. FREE Surgical Camp in Vic Falls Hospital

The integrated surgical camp at Vic Falls Hospital kicked off in early December 2023 to offer high-quality surgery to people in need. The week-long FREE Surgical Camp in Vic Falls Hospital saw 150 procedures being performed on patients in need of life-changing surgery. All operations were successfully done. The surgeries were conducted by volunteers from the Ministry of Health and Child. These include medical doctors, nurses, nurse aids and general hands and were supported by the government of Japan, the World Health Organisation (WHO Zimbabwe) and Celebration Health.

6. Love Shouldn’t Hurt Campaign

While the campaign is largely focused on reducing intimate partner violence and Gender Based Violence (GBV), its success will greatly result in reduced new HIV infections and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). According to data, GBV increases HIV risk directly and indirectly by limiting power to maintain healthy sexual relationships, refuse sex, negotiate condom use and through the impact of fear and trauma on help-seeking behaviors. The campaign is being implemented by the Population Solutions for Health (PSH) through support from the Swedish Embassy in Zimbabwe. The Love Shouldn’t Hurt campaign is unique in the sense that it does not wholly apportion blame to men and boys as perpetrators of intimate partner violence but recognises the need to empower men as champions, and for them to be role models and advocates against GBV and intimate partner violence. The campaign also conducts face-to-face dialogues or “Guy Talks” with men to raise awareness around Gender Based Violence (GBV) and all forms of violence against women and girls. The project ran for three years from January 2020 – December 2022. However, interventions around the program continued up until September 2023 and there is a high likelihood it could resume resources permitting.

7. CATALYST HIV Research Study

In July 2023, Zimbabwe launched the CATALYST Research study. The CATALYST Study is a brainchild of the Maximizing Options to Advance Informed Choice for HIV Prevention (MOSAIC) consortium. The study evaluates the delivery of HIV prevention methods in women and girls at greater risk of new HIV infections. The three-year study to evaluate and inform the national HIV response’s rollout of PrEP products and is running in five countries namely Zimbabwe, Kenya, Lesotho, Uganda and South Africa. In Zimbabwe, Pangaea Zimbabwe AIDS Trust (PZAT), is coordinating with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) to offer services and counsel participants, sharing detailed information about each PrEP method and supporting participants in choosing the best method for their lifestyle.

8. Zimbabwe-China Partnership Pilot Project To Eliminate Bilharzia

Portia received her dose of praziquantel

Following the successful signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which has seen Zimbabwe become the first country on the continent to benefit from the China-Africa Corporation Initiative for the elimination of Schistosomiasis, the Minsitry of Health and Child Care jointly initiated a pilot study on Schistosomiasis/ Bilharzia that was conducted by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) in Zimbabwe, and the China National Institute of Parasitic Diseases (NIPD) in Mashonaland Central Province. The study will help in mapping the Schistosomiasis burden areas as well as inform roll-out of the Mass drug administration against the diseasese.

9. Oral Rehydration Points (ORPs)

In the midst of the prevailing Cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health is working with partners in Manicaland to establish Oral Rehydration Points (ORPs) that offer basic Cholera care to Cholera patients, in the process reducing the number of patients in need of clinic or hospital admission. ORPs help increase the chances of quick recovery and reduce cholera death. Oral Rehydration Points are run by community volunteers and health workers. While Cholera treatment units and cholera treatment centres may be too far for people to reach them quickly, ORPs are located within communities and offer easy access to basic screening and rehydration. To date, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZCRC) working with the health ministry has established OPRs in Nyangani Village in Ward 16 Mutare Rural, Chipiro VillageMarange, Chakaza Business Centre in Marange, and Farikai Village in Chiadzwa.

10. Establishment of Long COVID Clinic

Working with the Elizabeth Glazer Paediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) through financial support from UNITAID and FIND, the Ministry of Health and Child Care has established a Long COVID Clinic at Wilkins Hospital in Harare. The Clinic provides treatment Long COVID-19 patients. Long COVID is defined as the continuation or development of new symptoms 3 months after the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection, with these symptoms lasting for at least 2 months with no other explanation. Studies show that around 10–20 percent of people infected by SARS-CoV-2 may go on to develop symptoms that can be diagnosed as long COVID.

NB//: This list was compiled by the HealthTimes monitoring team.Monitoring was done throughout
the year 2023. The team visited some of the sites to document the impact the projects and 
innovations are having on the community.

 

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