The European Union (EU) and Sweden have provided significant new funding to the multi-donor Health Development Fund (HDF) - managed by UNICEF and UNFPA.
The HDF supports health system strengthening in Zimbabwe since its inception in 2011 under the Health Transition Fund.
The EU has provided new funds amounting to over USD 41 million as additional top up funding to the HDF. Sweden has contributed an additional USD 2 million for direct use in 2020. These significant contributions will be combined with funds from the other HDF donors including DFID, Irish Aid and the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), to finance the prioritised interventions across the seven thematic areas of the HDF programme.
The thematic areas include maternal, new-born and child health; sexual and reproductive health and rights; medicines, vaccines and commodities; human resources for health; health financing, policy planning, and monitoring and evaluation; and technical assistance and innovation.
"While it's important to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, it's key to ensure that women and children still get the health care that they need, and to ensure that all health workers are protected while performing their duties of care and treatments of all patients," said Sweden's Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Her Excellency Åsa Pehrson.
The top-up funding has come at a critical moment when Zimbabwe is facing multiple hazards, which include widespread economic shocks, recurrent drought, a severe food insecurity crisis, recovery from the devastating Cyclone Idai in 2019, risk of outbreaks of cholera and typhoid, and now the Covid-19 pandemic. Part of the funding is being re-programmed to support the Government of Zimbabwe to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic in line with the national response plan.
"UNICEF is very grateful to the EU, Sweden and all the donors in the HDF for the continuous support since the inception of the pooled funding platform in Zimbabwe. These resources have significantly contributed towards strengthening the health system so that it remains resilient to the multiple challenges Zimbabwe has been facing," said Laylee Moshiri, UNICEF Zimbabwe Representative.
The contributions of donors to the HDF have resulted in increased coverage of key reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and nutrition services leading to better outcomes for children and women.
Between 2014 and 2019, the maternal mortality ratio was reduced from 614 to 462 deaths per 100,000 live births and the under-five mortality rate dropped from 75 to 65 deaths per 1000 live births.
"We as EU, together with our HDF partners, remain committed to supporting Zimbabwe in the ongoing health crisis. The current pandemic highlights more than ever the need for strong and inclusive healthcare systems. It also underlines the necessity for joint efforts in achieving our sustainable development goals through funds such as the HDF," said His Excellency Timo Olkkonen, Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe.
"This year, the EU increased its contribution to the HDF by USD 41 million. This comes on top of a total of USD 99 million that the EU has contributed to the HDF since 2015. We are glad that HDF has earmarked USD 12.4 million for Covid-19 response. The Fund will also continue to strengthen and improve basic health care to help alleviate the current socio-economic burden Zimbabwe is facing. The EU is also looking into further topping up its contribution to Covid-19 response with additional funds to the HDF," he said.