Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has extended a US$1 million grant to Zimbabwe for use in long-term interventions to combat cholera, which has claimed 55 lives since the beginning of September.
The grant, which will be disbursed through the World Health Organisation (WHO) over the next 12 months, will be used to build capacity in 100 local authorities in water quality monitoring, training of 300 village health workers in participatory hygiene education, community education and communication.
It will also be used to procure essential medicines, laboratory accessories, protective and emergency response equipment supplies.
Speaking at the official signing ceremony of the grant between the Government, WHO and AfDB, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said rehabilitation of water and sanitation services was Government’s priority because it affected the health of the population, which had an impact on economic growth and development.
He, however, said fiscal imbalances and lack of adequate financial resources had led to the current dire state.
“To this end, I am grateful for the grant aid support from AfDB, which amounts to one million United States dollars (US$1 million) to complement ongoing efforts by Government to control the disease through the proposed cholera response strategy,” said Prof Ncube.
He said he was also confident that the challenges faced by Zimbabwe’s health sector would also be alleviated through various interventions by AfDB, ZimFund and other development partners as witnessed in the recent cholera outbreak.
He said, to date, Government had received a total of $13 869 074 from different stakeholders to contain cholera.
Speaking at the same occasion, AfDB country manager Mr Damoni Kitabire said the grant reflected the bank’s commitment to help member countries in times of need.
He said AfDB’s support would be disbursed immediately to stop the spread of the water-borne disease.
“This support to Zimbabwe will complement Government’s efforts and assistance by development partners, as well as the WHO to avert a national and regional social and economic catastrophe by making it possible to prevent further deaths from cholera and containing its spread beyond the current affected areas,” said Mr Kitabire.
WHO country representative Dr Alex Gasasira commended Government for its successful cholera response plan since the first case was reported.
He said cases continue to go down, with an estimated 80-90 cases reported a week down from hundreds a day at the peak of the outbreak.
He said the latest assistance from AfDB should go a long way not only in containing the current outbreak but also building capacity for the prevention of future outbreaks.