Cricensia Tshu, one of the nurses at Sipepa Rural Hospital, takes out the insulated case of vaccines from the refrigerator to prepare for the day. As with other days, Cricensia prepares to receive mothers as they bring their infants for their vaccination shots.
Two years ago, this routine activity would not have been guaranteed. Unreliable power supply, which has affected Zimbabwe and most Southern African countries, created inconsistencies in the availability of vaccines which need to maintain a cold chain from the central pharmacies in Harare to Sipepa, over 550 km away.
In 2018, the partnership between the Government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care and The Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (Global Fund); and UNDP equipped 405 health facilities across the country with solar systems of varying capacity. The systems now provide primary power for critical operations including in maternal theatres and wards; pharmacies for medicines and vaccine refrigeration; information systems; and night lighting in the facilities.
As Zimbabwe prepares for potential surge in COVID-19 cases, this investment in solar for health will play a critical role in response to the disease. Power for medical devices, information systems and lighting will be important to contain the spread of the virus, provide care for patients and for real-time reporting of incidents across the country.
“The experience from our partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, and Global Fund provides a platform to continuously invest in a robust health system that can adequately absorb the demand on health facilities” said UNDP Resident Representative, Georges van Montfort.
Through the Global Fund, UNDP is also glad to support the COVID-19 response through the procurement of personal protective equipment for frontline health workers to a value of US$4.1 million. UNDP is partnering the Government, sister UN agencies and private sector to engage communities on information dissemination; support youth-led business working on the COVID-19 response, and to support the informal sector. Further options for Global Fund support to the COVID response by the health sector are also being considered.
The partnership between Government, Global Fund and UNDP to strengthen national health systems is supporting the country towards achievement of SDGs 3, 7, 8, 13 and 17: good health and well-being, affordable and clean energy, decent work, climate action and partnerships.