Ahead of the World Health Day on 8 April, the Ambassador of France, HE Laurent Chevallier, and the French Regional Counselor for Global Health in Southern Africa, Dr Thomas Mourez, conducted a a field visit in Harare, facilitated by the Ministry of Health and Child Care and UNICEF. The visit comes after the French Government contributed 2.5 million USD towards the COVAX facility programme. The funding will strengthen routine immunization and the integration of COVID-19 vaccination into the routine vaccination programme.
Zimbabwe health indicators has shown some progress. According to the 2022 Population Census, maternal mortality dropped from 462 per 100,000 live births in 2019 to 363 per 100,000 live births in 2022. Under-five mortality declined from 65 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2019 to 40 in 2022. Since 2010, the number of children suffering from chronic malnutrition was reduced from nearly one child out of three to less than one child out of four. But neonatal mortality rate remains a challenge. It stands at 32 deaths per 1,000 live births, above the 12 per 1,000 live births set forward for the 2030 target of Sustainable Development Goals.
Immunization, together with Vitamin A supplementation, is one of the most cost-effective childhood health interventions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, and like other countries, routine immunization and supplementation coverage rates dropped. At the same time, steady progress has been made in COVID-19 vaccination rates in Zimbabwe, which serves as a great opportunity to strengthen routine vaccination and Vitamin A supplementation.
The Government of France is the third donor to the COVAX facility which aims – through Gavi, the Global Vaccine Alliance – to improve equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and ultimately scale-up of COVID-19 vaccination.
In follow-up to the field mission, the French Regional Counselor for Global Health held several meetings with Government officials, health stakeholders, including UNICEF, and donors to understand the health situation in the country, acknowledge progress made in the sector and discuss the remaining challenges impacting the health of children, adolescents and women.