Mukudzei Chingwere Herald Reporter
Unicef has hailed Government’s commitment to citizens’ welfare and the success it continues to register in health provision, placing Zimbabwe on the cusp of achieving the Abuja Declaration, a pledge in 2001 by African Heads of State to set a target of allocating at least 15 percent of their national annual budgets to improve the health sector.
Zimbabwe to date is allotting 13 percent of its national Budget to health.
Visiting global director of health at Unicef headquarters, Dr Aboubakar Kampo, who arrived yesterday, lauded Zimbabwe’s efforts after paying a courtesy call on Acting President Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is the Minister of Health and Child Care.
Unicef started as the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, but has become a central agency in co-ordinating health development strategies, particularly those that involve children.
Dr Kampo said his delegation was on a mission in East and Southern Africa to see how countries responded to the global Covid-19 pandemic, among other concerns under UNICEF purview.
“We are very pleased to see what has been done so far in the Covid-19 response and the vision of going beyond the 40 percent immunisation coverage, the wish for the ministry (of Health and Child Care) is actually to go to 100 percent,” he said.
“Which really speaks to the commitment towards health of the Government of Zimbabwe towards its own citizens. We have been enlightened by the self-financing and the contribution of the Government of Zimbabwe towards the health sector.
“We hope in the coming months, we will be able to tell the story of one of the African countries on this continent who have achieved the Abuja declaration.”
Dr Kampo was pleased to hear of the vision of integrating services, “of not forgetting the other diseases, the non communicable diseases, HIV/AIDS and cancers despite the heavy burden of the Covid-19 response”.
“We also are very much in agreement of strengthening the health system,” he said.
“This is core not just to respond to this pandemic, but to be better prepared for future pandemics as well.”
Dr Kampo noted that the investment will benefit the citizenry beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have heard of the interventions already happening like the isolation centres across the country,” he said.
Acting President Dr Chiwenga said Zimbabwe will exchange ideas with the visiting delegation that include experts in the fields of HIV/AIDS and see how they can thoroughly respond.
Despite the presence of the global pandemic, Zimbabwe was seized with responding to other diseases like HIV/AIDS, cancer, among others, who continue to claim lives.
“He will be with us for a few days and will be able to see stakeholders in the health sector and in the country to see work UNICEF is doing in collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe,” said Acting President Chiwenga.
“They come here at this juncture we are battling with Covid-19, so we want to make sure all these pandemics are addressed, it is not only Covid-19 which is killing our people. There will be a high level meeting where we will be exchanging views with a number of development partners.”
Dr Chiwenga thanked the UNICEF envoy for showering praises on President Mnangagwa’s response to the global pandemic that ensured the effects of the virus were minimised on the citizenry.
“I want to thank and salute Dr Aboubakar Kampo for giving the necessary accolades to His Excellency the President, Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, when he came up with a master stroke in terms of arresting and controlling the Covid-19 global pandemic,” he said.
“With the objective for staying on course with the National Development Strategy 1 and the Vision 2030, because without controlling the pandemics as they come, the Vision 2030 cannot be achieved, the National Development Strategy 1 cannot be fulfilled.”