A TWO-YEAR project sponsored by China Aid aimed at accelerating maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) has benefited nearly two million people in Zimbabwe.
muThe South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund (SSCAF) Zimbabwe Project, done in collaboration with UNICEF, scored a number of achievements in two pilot provinces, Matabeleland South and Mashonaland Central.
The major objective of the project was to accelerate improvements in availability, quality, and utilization of maternal, newborn and child health services which – cumulatively benefitted 1,741,251 people.
It involved education and capacity building, providing medical supplies and sharing of experiences between Zimbabwe and Chinese experts.
“The specific objective of the project was to improve access to and quality of MNCH interventions in Zimbabwe towards achieving health Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by achieving maternal mortality reduction from 651 per 100,000 live births to 300 per 100,000 live births and neonatal mortality from 29 deaths per 1,000 live births to 20 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2021,” a report of the project – released last week – said.
Since its inception, the initiative helped reduce the maternal mortality rate in Zimbabwe and despite the impact of Covid 19 on utilization and access to services, efforts were made to sustain continuity of services during the project period through integration of related services.
Cumulatively 1,741,251 people were reached under this project. 57,176 pregnant women were referred to health facilities in the 15 districts and a total of 447,138 children under five received growth monitoring; 5,216 children with diarrhoea were appropriately treated by village health workers (VHWs) using ORS and Zinc at community level.
A total of 216,722 women, children were reached with integrated maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition services at outreach points and 1,020,215 families were reached with Covid-19 prevention messages during the reporting period.
The project, which was implemented by UNICEF Zimbabwe, trained nurse educators and university lecturers in competency-based methodologies for training in basic emergency obstetric and newborn care (BEmONC) in Matabeleland South and Mashonaland Central as it sought to help them update their knowledge and skills in preservice training in BEmONC to improve quality of preservice training.
BEmONC is a primary health care level initiative promoted in low- and middle-income countries to reduce maternal and newborn mortality
In the capital, Harare, there was an expert exchange and technical assistance between Zimbabwe and China with six participants completing the course and obtaining certificates.
Village Health Workers in both provinces received training on community based maternal neonatal child adolescent health and nutrition and HIV services integrated by emergency preparedness and response initiatives with the aim of strengthening service delivery at household levels including increasing demand and utilization of services.
“The training for VHWs had a positive impact on the lives of women and children in the targeted districts,” the report indicated.
The project also managed to procure a total of 600 bicycles with support from Chinese Government and were distributed to VHWs.
“According to beneficiary quotes for VHWs, the bicycles were appreciated by VHWs as they improved their mobility and reach to all households within the VHWs’ catchment areas,” the report said.