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US$145 million needed for Covid-19 response until August



ZIMBABWE currently needs US$145 million to procure equipment crucial for combating the coronavirus, a national Covid-19 inter-sectoral plan for the period from March to August 2021 has revealed.

The pandemic is having a significant impact on all aspects of society, with the country’s poorly equipped medical facilities struggling to cope.

It has emerged that the country currently has a procurement budget of around US$17 million for the disease.

This comes after the government announced in January that it had set aside US$100 million for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.

This week, cabinet announced that the Global Fund has given Zimbabwe US$75 million to complement the government’s Covid-19 response.

In terms of the national  plan, the equipment and services that need procuring include personal protective equipment (PPE), medicines, medical equipment and laboratories.

PPEs will cost US$112 950 150.78, with laboratories needing US$18 151 781,33, while medical equipment and medicine require US$5 373 178,30 and US$8 587 581,79 respectively.

In an interview with The NewsHawks, Zimbabwe Medical Association secretary-general Bismarck Mateveke said adequate resources are needed for Covid-19 response.

“Without PPEs it is difficult to fight Covid because it is an infectious disease, so in order for you to fight it you need PPEs to be protected so it’s quite relevant that enough resources are gathered for acquiring these things. The first and second wave were a bit difficult, but we did manage to get into the groove,” he said.

The document says although strides have been in improving the health delivery system, medical institutions still fall short.

“Health system capacities have been significantly strengthened but there were still major vulnerabilities, ICU (intensive care unit) capacity (specialised health workers, equipment) still very limited.

“Capacity of health system to deliver essential health services at the same time as responding to Covid-19 is still a major challenge,” the document read.

Despite near-universal recognition of the critical importance of an effective and equitable healthcare system, the sector faces both longstanding and new challenges that affect the quality of and access to healthcare services and programmes. 

According to Transparency International Zimbabwe’s latest report titled Illicit Financing in the Public Health Sector in Zimbabwe, many of the challenges facing the health sector are worsened by the misappropriation of public funds for private gain in the form of illicit finance. 

The chief coordinator of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Agnes Mahomva, said the government has adopted various measures aimed at tackling the pandemic.

“From day one, we have put in a very detailed strategic plan which was launched by the President, the plan has eight clear strategies guided by WHO (World  Health Organisation) guidelines and it includes surveillance, laboratory, case management, infection prevention control, and logistics which include the procurement of equipment,” she said. 40% of health spending comes from external funding from donors.

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