US$1.3 mln Japanese boost for maternal health in Zim
Harare, (New Ziana) – The Japanese government and the United Nations Population Fund in Zimbabwe (UNFPA Zim) have signed a US$1.3 million partnership grant to support programmes aimed at cutting the number of women who die while giving birth in the country, the two partners said on Thursday.
At the last count in 2019, about 462 women out of every 100 000 in Zimbabwe died while giving birth, a number estimated to have gone up in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Provision of maternal health services was severely disrupted as health institutions shifted focus to the new menace, Covid-19.
Through a project dubbed “Strengthening Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care in Covid-19 Hotspots in Zimbabwe”, Japan, through UNFPA Zim, will improve provision of maternal health care services within the context of Covid-19, specifically strengthening the referral system and ensuring continuity of assisted delivery care in Harare and Bulawayo.
The support includes procurement of ambulances, medical equipment and expendable supplies as well as training of personnel.
“During a crisis, it is often women and children who suffer the most,” said Satoshi Tanaka, Japan’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe.
“Japan decided to provide this support to help ensure that maternity services are prioritised, and mothers and new-born babies receive the care that they deserve.”
UNFPA Zimbabwe Country Representative, Dr Esther Muia said the project would improve resilience of health systems in the country to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This will help to avert preventable maternal and perinatal deaths through strengthening the capacity of the central hospitals and maternity polyclinics to provide effective and efficient comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care,” she said.
“We are extremely grateful for this support by the Government of Japan and look forward to even greater cooperation in the future to change the lives of women, children and families as a whole.”
An estimated 60 000 women are expected to benefit from the interventions.