Government yesterday received 968 solar-powered refrigerators for the country’s expanded immunisation programme (EPI) from the Gavi Vaccine Alliance and 140 oxygen concentrators from the Health Development Fund (HDF) for its Covid-19 response to the tune of over US$3,5 million.
Procured by funding availed by the Gavi Vaccine Alliance through a window called Cold Chain Equipment Optimisation Platform, which Zimbabwe successfully applied for, to rehabilitate and expand the cold chain, the new technology of cold chain will increase the number of facilities with this technology from 300 to 1 250.
The country will only be left with a deficit of 450 centres without up-to-date cold chain equipment. It will also increase the number of beds for patients with moderate to severe Covid-19 symptoms from 45 to 179.
Health and Child Care Deputy Minister John Mangwiro said the Government will immediately deploy the equipment to health facilities countrywide.
He said some of the cold chain equipment will replace obsolete refrigerators, while others will be deployed elsewhere.
“The refrigerators we are receiving today are powered by solar energy and solar direct drive,” said Dr Mangwiro.
“This new technology will reduce operational costs related to electricity and LP gas consumption.
“It eliminates the challenges posed by frequent and prolonged power outages. This means our health centres are now assured of reliable cold chain equipment in line with our focus on equity in access to quality health services.”
In relation to Covid-19 equipment, Dr Mangwiro said this will increase capacity of hospitals to treat moderate to severe patients.
He said the latest consignment will bring close to 80 percent of the required beds of patients in this category.
Dr Mangwiro acknowledged the role played by several partners for funding and technical assistance during application and procurement process for the equipment.
WHO country representative, Dr Alex Gasasira, said over the past months, most of the work has been around Covid-19.
He said, it was important to also look at other areas such as immunisation, since Covid-19 was proving to be around for a long time.
“Covid-19 has disrupted the way we live, it has disrupted our programming, but it is important that we remind each other of other essential health services requiring our attention such as immunisation,” said Dr Gasasira.
UNICEF acting country representative, Mrs Amina Mahommed, said the equipment will go a long way in ensuring that Zimbabweans get access to quality healthcare.
She said there was need to ramp up efforts collectively to mitigate spread of Covid-19.
“It is important that we are prepared to provide optimum care to those patients who may be hospitalised with mild or severe cases of the infection,” she said.
UNICEF is the fund manager for HDF, which is a pool of funding from different development partners towards health.