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The Ministry of Health and Childcare (MoHCC) of Zimbabwe joined hands with United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in a project to equip rural health facilities with solar-powered systems.
The solar-powered facilities will be implemented under the Sustainable Energy for Health Facilities and Surrounding Communities Programme (SE4HF). The initiative is supported by the Government of Sweden and the Health Development Fund (supported by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, UK, Sweden, Ireland, EU).
The project targets four districts in Zimbabwe to improve quality healthcare services for women and children. The districts that will be benefited are Chimanimani and Chipinge in the Manicaland province, as well as Gokwe North and South in the Midlands province.
These districts were selected on the basis of UNICEF‘s assessments in consultation with the relevant authorities and specified the communities that highly need alternative energy sources. The objective is to improve the healthcare facilities for women and children from deprived communities, through the provision of sustainable energy solutions.
A total number of 30 health facilities in the targeted districts are planned to have solar-powered system installations, sustaining the cold chain for vaccination and improving other general conditions of certain facilities.
Although some of the clinics in Manicaland and Midlands provinces are connected to the national power grid, the electricity supply is unreliable. The situation worsens during the rainy season, according to the health workers. The rural health clinics face a number of challenges including lack of running water and reliable power supply.
“Our area is highly mountainous. During the rainy season, trees fall on electricity power lines. We sometimes go up to a month before the engineers fix the problem. With the solar systems installed, we are in a position to provide round-the-clock health services,” says Tapiwa Zuze, the Nurse-in-Charge at Muchadziya Clinic located in Chimanimani District.
Along with the solar installations in the health clinics, the surrounding communities will also benefit from the ‘Energy-Saving Stove Initiative’, a project that aims to provide an alternative and clean cooking solution that protects the environment.