THE UNITED Nations-managed Health Development Fund (HDF) has procured 198 oxygen concentrators to aid in Zimbabwe’s fight against COVID-19.
BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
The HDF, which is managed by United Nations International Children’s Fund (Unicef) and United Nations Population Fund, (UNFPA), has also donated 968 solar-driven refrigerators for the country’s immunisation programme.
“The oxygen concentrators will assist the Ministry of Health and Child Care in the ongoing operation of the national operationalisation of the national COVID-19 response plan which comprises eight pillars, one of them being case management,” HDF said in a statement on Saturday.
“Substantial quantities of oxygen concentrators are required to manage and save lives, especially at this time when the risk of a rise in COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has increased, resulting in a large number of patients requiring hospitalisation.”
The concentrators have increased the country’s COVID-19 high dependency unit (HDU) bed capacity from 45 beds to 179, representing 80% completion of HDU required for Zimbabwe.
The development comes at a time the country’s total confirmed COVID-19 cases have risen to 982 with 644 active cases, substantially increasing the number of patients in need of hospitalisation.
Eighteen people have succumbed to the virulent ailment.
The HDF said the oxygen concentrators will go a long way in curbing neonatal mortality rate in Zimbabwe post-COVID-19.
“The oxygen concentrators will also strengthen health service delivery capacity post-COVID-19 as they are an essential piece of equipment in new-born resuscitation, thus contributing to the reduction of neonatal mortality in Zimbabwe,” the statement further read.
Unicef deputy representative Amina Mohamed said solar-driven refrigerators would enable immunisation programmes to reach remote areas.
“Vaccines need to be stored at a constant, cool temperature to be effective,” Mohamed said.
“Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions in movement for mothers and their babies, immunisation coverage in Zimbabwe has not been equitable across the country, with inequities across geographic areas, urban versus rural, and wealth quintiles. These solar-driven refrigerators will see the expanded programme on immunisation reaching the last mile.”