|During a January 2009 visit, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman greets Zimbabwean children at a water point in Budiriro, site of one of the 70 UNICEF-supported treatment centres set up in response to a cholera outbreak.|
WASHINGTON, DC, USA, 12 June 2009 – UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman met today with Morgan Tsvangirai, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, and three of his government ministers.
At the meeting, Veneman reaffirmed UNICEF’s commitment to the people of Zimbabwe. Discussions focused on the need to improve access to education, create opportunities for youth and restore the water and sanitation systems in the country.
Tsvangirai is on a tour of Europe and the United States to seek financial support for his country’s new power-sharing government. Veneman visited Zimbabwe in January, meeting with President Robert Mugabe as well as key ministers and stakeholders.
From collapse to renewal
Zimbabwe faced myriad problems in 2008, including a collapse of basic social services. Eighty per cent of schools closed as teachers were unable to go to work, while nearly all clinics and hospitals were closed with major impacts for mortality.
At the end of the year, the country was hit by a devastating outbreak of cholera, responsible for almost 100,000 cases of illness.
This year, there are signs of renewed hope for Zimbabwe. Thanks to an incentive programme launched by UNICEF, in collaboration with partners and through emergency programme funding, health workers were back in hospitals by the end of January. UNICEF also procured and distributed 70 per cent of the essential medicines needed for 1,400 clinics and hospitals.
Massive humanitarian effort
Today, children are able to have access to basic health services again. National Immunization Day campaigns are allowing 2 million children to receive measles and polio vaccines, along with vitamin A supplements, to compensate for the immunizations they missed last year.
The cholera outbreak is also under control through water, sanitation, hygiene and health interventions led by UNICEF.
UNICEF was instrumental, as well, in brokering an agreement between the national teachers’ unions and the Ministry of Education. Teachers have returned to school and over 3 million students have access to education in a safe and protective environment. More than 300,000 orphans and other vulnerable children have been assisted by UNICEF.
In 2009, UNICEF is spending over $100 million on this humanitarian response, ensuring the delivery of basic social services and the protection of Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable children.