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.
UNDP with support from the Global Fund and in partnership with the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Local Government, equipped 405 health facilities across the country with solar systems of varying capacity.
These systems 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.
“The experience from our partnership with the Ministry of Health, 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.
As Zimbabwe prepares for a potential surge in Covid-19 cases, the investment in 405 health facilities with solar grids 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.
Through the Global Fund, the UN has supported the National Response Plan to Covid-19 through the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers with US$4.1 million.
UNDP is partnering with the Government, other UN agencies, and the private sector to engage communities on information dissemination; support youth-led businesses 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.