Zimbabwe’s Mhuri/Imuli II and SHASHA Projects Get US$25 Million Jab

By Michael Gwarisa in Rusape

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has launched two projects with a combined value of US$25 Million in a bid to improve the lives of mothers, babies, and young women in Zimbabwe.

The two projects, Mhuri Imuli II and the Sexual Health Services program (SHASHA) programs will be implemented over the next five years. The Mhuri/Imuli II is set to expand its geographic coverage and strengthen health services for mothers and babies to five provinces namely Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland South, and Mashonaland West, saving the lives of more than 800,000 babies and reducing the maternal mortality rate by 10 percent in these areas.

On the other hand, the SHASHA project will be implemented by Population Services Zimbabwe (PSZ), and will provide comprehensive family planning education, contraceptive services, and support for reproductive health rights.

Officiating at the event, Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) Deputy Minister, Honourable Sleiman Timios Kwidini said the two projects were in line with the government’s vision to improve access to healthcare services for all.

The government’s vision in the National Health Strategy 2021-2025 is to ensure the highest possible level of health and quality of life for all citizens of Zimbabwe by 2030,” said Honourable Kwidini.

He added that while globally, women and children bear the harshest brunt of poverty, poor health outcomes, hunger and socio-cultural practices among other challenges, the Zimbabwean government was committed to implementing rights enshrined in Section 56 of the Constitution Amendment 19 2013 which provides for a strong framework for the protection and promotion of the rights of all citizens.

“The government has also placed Sexual Reproductive Health and rights high on the national agenda. The Ministry of Health with support from partners is implementing a national SRH program aimed at providing and promoting appropriate quality comprehensive, integrated HIV services that are safe, equitable, affordable, acceptable and accessible to all citizens.”

He also said the SRH program is supporting National Global Development priorities through focusing on SDG3 which is aimed at ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all. The program is aimed at ensuring that every pregnancy is safe and results in positive outcomes through addressing barriers to achieving reproductive, maternal new-born child and adolescents health.

Over the past five years, USAID’s Mhuri Imuli program helped the Ministry of Health and Child Care conduct more than 211,000 (94 percent) institutional deliveries. The work under the project resulted in an increase in babies successfully resuscitated from 47 percent in 2018 to 86 percent in 2023. They also supported 94 percent of the measles vaccinations in 71 health facilities in Manicaland Province.

“Mhuri Imuli will build on these achievements by strengthening the skills and knowledge of health care workers, community health systems, and integrating maternal and child health services with reproductive health care,” said the FHI360 Country Representative, Farai Charasika.

Over the last five years USAID provided more than 326,000 people with modern contraceptives in all the ten provinces of Zimbabwe. Through SHASHA we are expanding our reach and will contribute to increased access to voluntary family planning services for young women in poor, underserved, and hard-to-reach areas in Zimbabwe.

At 67 percent, Zimbabwe’s Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate is one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa.  However, approximately 10 percent of adolescent girls and young women cannot access family planning services.  These young girls often face barriers to accessing services due to cultural, economic, or logistical challenges.

Mrs Pester Siraha, the PSZ Country Director said they intend to reach over 1 million women with services through the SHASHA project.

“Currently we have started with Manicaland, Harare and Midlands provinces. As we progress with the program, we will be covering the whole country. The program is likely to reach over 1 Million Women throughout the life of the project. In five years, we would reach around more than 1.5 million women with services,” said Mrs Siraha.

 “Previously USAID supported one program that covered both maternal-child health and family planning. Now, we have two programs with a wider and broader reach.  Together, we can create a world where no mother or child dies needlessly, and every woman and girl has the resources and support she needs to lead a healthy empowered life and to feel safe,” USAID Mission Director Janean Davis.

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