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UK – UNICEF Partnership on support to Zimbabwe’s health sector set to expand

Harare, 16 February 2012 - Zimbabwe’s health sector today received a major boost after the United Kingdom announced a new contribution of 74 million pounds (around 120 million USD) to support maternal and child health. Around 80 million USD is earmarked to support the Health Transition Fund (HTF), an innovative  multi-donor fund launched in November 2011 and managed by UNICEF.  The HTF has four main components: i) Support for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and Nutrition Services; ii) Provision of Medicines and Basic Equipment; iii) Human Resources for Health; and iv) Health Policy, Planning and Finance.  The objective is to eliminate user fees for women and children and ultimately save more than 30,000 lives among children under five and pregnant women.  This grant represents the largest contribution to date for the Heath Transition Fund, with the United Kingdom joining the Governments of Norway, Sweden, and Ireland in the first tranche of supporters of the programme.

In the last decade, Zimbabwe has witnessed a dramatic decline in the delivery of primary health care services that has led to a major increase in maternal and child mortality.  Maternal mortality has doubled since 1990 and now stands at 790 per 100,000 live births; this means that 8 women are dying every day while giving life. In addition, 100 children are dying every day, mainly due to preventable diseases, and around one-third of children are stunted.

“There is no doubt that the poorest women and children have borne the brunt of the decline in health service delivery over the past decade,” said UNICEF Representative, Dr Peter Salama. ‘However, significant progress has been made in recent years. Abolishing user fees for pregnant women and children under 5 and strengthening the quality and reach of services will save even more lives.”

Over the past 3 years, efforts made by the Inclusive Government, combined with investments by international donor partners, have already made a tangible difference to stabilizing the health sector. Schemes to supplement health worker salaries and supply the basic package of essential medicines have shown a significant impact in re-establishing primary health care services across the country. Latest data show that there are virtually no major stock-outs of drugs and vaccines across the country and more than 90% of the 1400 facilities have the majority of required commodities.

“Many challenges still remain in our efforts to provide access to quality health services across the country,” said Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr. Henry Madzorera. “The Health Transition Fund will accelerate our efforts to bring Zimbabwe’s Health Sector back on its feet; I am confident that this significant grant from the UK government will accelerate progress on the health-related MDGs.”

The new announcement builds on a strong existing partnership between the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and UNICEF in Zimbabwe. Over the past 4 years, the UK has invested more than 100 million USD through UNICEF in Zimbabwe. This support has contributed to major national results such as ensuring every child in the country has a full set of core textbooks, ensuring a guaranteed national supply of essential medicines, providing multi-sectoral support to over 500,000 orphans and vulnerable children and payment for school fees for an additional 500,000, and helping to prevent another major cholera outbreak.

“This contribution from the United Kingdom is a clear demonstration of our commitment to rebuilding the health sector and expanding our support to the social services in Zimbabwe,” said Dave Fish, Head of DFID Zimbabwe.” We are confident that our partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and UNICEF will continue to deliver for the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe.”

UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For information and interviews, please contact:
Micaela de Sousa, Chief of Communications, Tel 263 772124268, mmarques@unicef.org




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