Zimbabwe launches Health Resilience Fund and Strategic Frameworks to bolster Universal Health Coverage
By Tatenda Chimbwanda
Harare, Zimbabwe – Universal Health Coverage (UHC) means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without having to suffer financial hardship to pay for it. It covers the full continuum of essential health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care. According to the latest UHC index Zimbabwe stands at 55% above the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 46%.
To make health for all (UHC) a reality for all in Zimbabwe, His Excellency Honorable Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), Dr C.D.G.N Chiwenga recently launched the Health Resilience Fund (HRF), a pooled donor funding mechanism which seeks to accelerate progress towards achieving UHC. The fund was launched together with the National Health Strategy (NHS) 2021-2025, the NHS Investment Case and the National Health Sector Coordination Framework (HSCF). The priority interventions to be funded under the HRF will be informed by the NHS and the HSCF will enable stronger collaborations and coordinated response to the health issues in Zimbabwe.
Three UN Agencies (UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO) together with the MoHCC will take leadership in the implementation of the HRF. The donors who have pooled the funding into the HRF include the European Union, the Government of Ireland, and the United Kingdom.
Speaking during the launch of HRF and strategies, Dr Chiwenga emphasized on the importance of collaboration in the achievement of UHC. “As the name suggest the HRF is designed to ensure resilient and sustainable health system. The challenges and lessons learnt were critically analyzed to come up with health interventions which consider scarcity of resources and the need for improved efficiency in our programming,” he said.
"The government remains focused on achieving the highest standard of health care and quality of life possible for all its citizens,” he added.
The HRF is aligned with Zimbabwe’s National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and the National Health Strategy (NHS) 2021-2025. The HRF will contribute improving health care for vulnerable mothers, new-born, children, and adolescents in Zimbabwe under the coordination of the MoHCC with support from WHO, UNFPA, and UNICEF. The Fund with a budget of approximately USD 90 million will focus on three health pillars: ending preventable maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent deaths; global health security; and health systems strengthening. WHO will provide technical and operational support to MoHCC in strengthening public health emergency surveillance and response at all levels of the health system including community level under the HRF.
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Zimbabwe Mr Edward Kallon noted,“the HRF and the result of partnerships among partners, will also impact positively on other sectors, Education, WASH, gender equality and equity, job creation, thus enabling the achievement of other SDGs, including strengthening the resilience of the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Speaking during the HRF and strategies launch, European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Jobst von Kirchman, highlighted “the EU committed $USD45 million towards the HRF. A healthy population is the engine of a country’s economy,” he said.
The MoHCC developed NHS (2021–2025) to guide the implementation of programs to improve the health and wellness of the population. The NHS (2021-2025) focuses on building on a resilient and sustainable health system premised on UHC policies approach. Given the considerable gap between the costs of the proposed set interventions and strategies of NHS 2021-2025 and resources available, the MoHCC developed the Investment Case to the National Health Strategy (2021–2025) to ensure mobilize required resources that will be directed towards prioritized high impact interventions. The need for collaboration and coordination remains key in accelerating the implementation of the NHS 2021-2025 as Zimbabwe progresses towards UHC.
In addition, to strengthen the intra-ministerial and multi sectoral coordination MoHCC developed the Health Sector Coordination Framework (HSCF). The latter’s main objective is to coordinate shared effort by the MoHCC and all key stakeholders with a stake in financing, planning, and implementing health related interventions to maximize health outcomes and ultimately attaining UHC.
Speaking on behalf of WHO Zimbabwe Country Representative a.i Professor Jean-Marie Dangou, Dr Lincoln Charimari (Emergencies Incident Manager) noted, “WHO remains committed to support Zimbabwe to achieve UHC. The HRF and new strategies are timely interventions that will significantly contribute towards building sustainable and resilient health systems which can adequately respond to public health emergencies and ensure health security.”