Harare (New Ziana) – Zimbabwe on Wednesday received special commendation from the World Bank for its well-planned and implemented Covid-19 vaccination programme, under which the country has procured vaccines worth over US$140 million, and already boasts of a number of towns and cities that have achieved herd immunity.
Zimbabwe, which started its vaccination programme in February last year, has vaccinated over 40 percent of its eligible population, using Chinese, Russian and Indian-made vaccines.
The Southern African country recently extended the vaccination programme to children aged between 12 and 15 years in line with medical advice, and is also offering third booster shots.
Teenagers aged between 14 and 17 years were already being vaccinated, notable achievements for a country reeling under economic sanctions, and also one that was excluded from global Covid-19 funding support.
Zimbabwe, which is in arrears to the World Bank, and other International Financial Institutions, could not access regular financing from these like other nations, and had to make do with small grants from their trust funds.
Charmed by the impressive progress, the World Bank unveiled US$6, 6 million in new funding under the Zimbabwe Covid-19 Emergency Response Project (ZCERP) to complement government efforts.
World Bank country director for Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, and Malawi, Mara Warwick said: “The government’s commitment towards improving health service delivery is also reflected in the advancements that the country has made in procuring Covid-19 vaccines and we applaud the government for moving on this agenda.”
Zimbabwe, which is targeting to vaccinate at least 10 million people representing 60 percent of the population to achieve herd immunity, was listed among 15 African countries that achieved the World Health Organisation target of fully vaccinating 10 percent of their populations by September last year.
Warwick said the funding was an additional layer of support that the World Bank was providing to the health sector, adding on to the support already provided through the health sector support development project and the Zimbabwe cyclone Idai recovery project.
“The health sector development project has, since its inception in 2011, focused on accelerating access to quality maternal and child health services through a result-based financing mechanism. Over time this project has been scaled up and has matured with Zimbabwe advancing in the institutionalisation of this results-based financing approach ahead of many other countries. The World Bank will continue to rely on the government’s stewardship of the programme and collaborative efforts of all the partners,” she said.
Receiving the funding, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube explained how the funding would be deployed.
“The project will deliver the Covid-19 vaccine deployment strategy through the implementation of the following activities; Vaccine deployment and related risk, communication and community engagement- US$3.52 million; climate-friendly related health systems strengthening for which we are deploying US$1.575 million and overall response coordination and management, monitoring and evaluation -US$1.48 million,” he said.
“Let me assure you that the government of Zimbabwe is committed and will continue mobilising additional resources to ensure that the target population is fully vaccinated and livelihoods are protected.”
Ncube also commended Covid-19 relief support received from various development partners, which now amounted to over US$150 million.