Zim, Iran sign health equipment deal
Mukudzei Chingwere in TEHRAN, Iran
Zimbabwe and Iran have signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in pharmaceutical and medical equipment, plus medical education and health system management.
Vice President and Health and Child Care Minister Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is in Iran on a bilateral visit, signed the agreement on behalf of Zimbabwe, while Iranian Minister of Health and Medical Education, Dr Bahram Einollahi, signed for Iran.
The close cooperation between the two countries will accelerate implementation of Zimbabwe’s national health strategy underpinned on universal health coverage of sufficient quality.
Iran has become one of the leading countries in the world in medical tourism and also boasts of vibrant manufacturing capacity accounting for more than 97 percent of its own medical requirements.
Their progress has caught the attention of World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, who has said Iran is a healthcare regional leader with increased public investment in the sector as well as improved infrastructure.
Yesterday, VP Chiwenga visited Iran’s House of Innovation and Technology, and a medical equipment exhibition, as he and his delegation sought to tap into Iran’s innovativeness.
“Zimbabwe commends and appreciates the excellent relations that have existed between our two sisterly countries since the days of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle,” said VP Chiwenga.
“It is imperative that the two countries redouble their efforts to ensure that these political relations are complemented by growth in economic interactions between the two countries. I am impressed with your innovation.
“We will be sending our delegation from Higher and Tertiary Education Ministry to learn.
“We are interested in cancer machines, mobile hospitals for disaster prone areas, CT Scans, anaesthetic machines, among others.
“We noted the importance that you attach to research and innovation. The maintenance of equipment will be critical and easy because of the localised production. The medical equipment which we saw will make a huge difference in our hospitals.”
VP Chiwenga said Zimbabwe was interested in the joint production of medical equipment, adding that Iran could also take advantage of Harare’s position to reach out to the African market through the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Free trade areas have rules of origin within the area for manufacture of duty-free exports, but are not concerned if outsiders provide the technology or investment capital.
Just like Zimbabwe, Iran is under economic sanctions, making the country a great yardstick and example of sanctions-busting for Harare, which is pushing towards an upper middle income economy by 2030 as set out by President Mnangagwa.
Minister Einollahi said sanctions had taught them to be self-sufficient and improve local production.
He said their health system boasts of having all the specialities in the medical field, implying they can do without foreign referrals.
“They have imposed sanctions and at the time of Covid-19 they kept on with an unfair trade and kept sanctions in place,” he said.
“Despite the sanctions, we stood firm and developed our capacities. These sanctions have led us to have great achievements and development. We are able to stand on our own feet. There is no speciality we cannot do.
“I hope we can have great cooperation and achieve greater things together. Without doubt, your visit could have a great impact in increasing bilateral relations.
“History shows us that Zimbabwe is a good friend of Iran and can be relied upon. There is a lot of untapped potential, and we need to operationalise these engagements.”