By SAMANTHA SIBANDA
ZIMBABWE has an estimated 7,9 million people, including 4,1 million children, that are in need of urgent life-saving health services and humanitarian assistance due to multiple hazards brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was revealed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) in its recent report, which also noted that the country was at risk of outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera due to heavy rains that fell this year.
Unicef said this year, it needed US$74,7 million to meet Zimbabwe’s humanitarian needs, including US$18,9 million for emergency and US$16 million for the health response.
“More than 38 000 children with severe acute malnutrition that has increased from 3,6% in 2019 to 4,5% in 2020 need treatment,” the Unicef report read.
“As of September 20, 2020, Zimbabwe reported nearly 7 700 cases of COVID-19; over 200 deaths, and 5 900 recoveries. Some 7,9 million people will need life-saving health services, 38 000 children with malnutrition will need treatment, and 140 000 people will need HIV and Aids services.”
The report said the impact of COVID-19 had further weakened the country’s public health system, risking widespread strikes by healthcare workers that were demanding improved working conditions.
“Health Development Fund (HDF) is a Health System Strengthening effort with the primary objective to support the Government of Zimbabwe to build health systems for delivery of effective health services for the population.”
Unicef said through its HDF, it managed to pool resources for Cyclone Idai victims in 2019 and other emergencies.
“All the required essential medicines and commodities for the emergency response were ready and in stock to be deployed to the affected areas. And the established networks of well-trained village health workers were quickly mobilised to support disease prevention activities,” the report further read.
“The health sector response prevented potential epidemic disease outbreaks such as cholera and measles through mass integrated vaccination campaigns, reaching over 67 000 children (six to 59 months) with measles and almost 470 000 of eligible persons with oral cholera vaccines.”