US$43 million boost for health
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
THE European Union (EU) and the Swedish Embassy in Zimbabwe have availed a combined US$43 million to support the country’s Health Development Fund (HDF), the Daily News reports.
The funding, which will be managed by Unicef and UNFPA, will support thematic areas including maternal, new-born and child health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, medicines, vaccines and commodities, human resources for health, health financing, policy planning, and monitoring and evaluation and technical assistance and innovation.
Unicef Zimbabwe representative Laylee Moshiri said the top-up funding had come at a critical moment when Zimbabwe is facing multiple hazards, which include widespread economic shocks, recurrent drought, a severe food insecurity crisis, recovery from the devastating Cyclone Idai in 2019, risk of outbreaks of cholera and typhoid, and now the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Unicef is very grateful to the EU, Sweden and all the donors in the HDF for the continuous support since the inception of the pooled funding platform in Zimbabwe. These resources have significantly contributed towards strengthening the health system so that it remains resilient to the multiple challenges Zimbabwe has been facing,” Moshiri said.
Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen said the contributions of donors to the HDF would result in increased coverage of key reproductive, maternal, new-born child and nutrition services, leading to better outcomes for children and women.
According to statistics, between 2014 and 2019, the maternal mortality ratio in Zimbabwe was reduced from 614 to 462 deaths per 100 000 live births and the under-five mortality rate dropped from 75 to 65 deaths per 1 000 live births.
“As EU, together with our HDF partners, we remain committed to supporting Zimbabwe in the ongoing health crisis.
“The current pandemic highlights more than ever the need for strong and inclusive healthcare systems.
“It also underlines the necessity for joint efforts in achieving our sustainable development goals through funds such as the HDF,” he said.
“This year, the EU increased its contribution to the HDF by US$41 million. This comes on top of a total of US$99 million that the EU has contributed to the HDF since 2015. We are glad that HDF has earmarked US$12,4 million for Covid-19 response.
“The Fund will also continue to strengthen and improve basic healthcare to help alleviate the current socio-economic burden Zimbabwe is facing. The EU is also looking into further topping up its contribution to Covid-19 response with additional funds to the HDF,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sweden’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe – Åsa Pehrson – said while it was important to respond to the Covid-19 crisis, it was also key to ensure that women and children still get the healthcare that they need, and to ensure that all health workers are protected while performing their duties of care and treatments of all patients.