SOME anti-Zimbabwe Zimbabweans on Twitter were recently trying to downplay the country’s Covid-19 vaccination drive, claiming it is not testimony of any improvement in the health sector.
The critics claimed that because the country has always been good in rolling out vaccines, there was nothing to write home about when it comes to the fight against Covid-19.
They couldn’t have spoken sooner. We learned yesterday that Zimbabwe is among five countries in the world which have halved Aids-related deaths in the past three decades and was also recently removed from the list of 30 TB highly burdened countries worldwide.
Also, the country has managed to fight malaria and tuberculosis through its programming as shown by a decrease in new cases and deaths.
The gains by Zimbabwe have led to the Global Fund supporting the C19RM grant for Zimbabwe which is estimated at around US$75 million.
The point: Zimbabwe’s health sector is not a failure, as sceptics would want us to believe.
There have been a number of gains and President Mnangagwa’s Government in the Second Republic — and in the face of the world’s worst health pandemic of our time — continues to score positives.
One of them is the fight against Covid-19. Zimbabwe has fared well. Global stats speak for themselves.
The success of the vaccination drive can also not be wished away. The view that there is nothing worth noting about the national Covid-19 vaccination programme simply because Zimbabwe has always been good at rolling out vaccines is, at the very least, reductionist.
The Covid-19 vaccination programme is not a regular rollout that has been done over years until the targeted disease has been eliminated.
This is about new vaccines that the world is still learning about.
The targeted pandemic is also as complex as it is dangerous.
And in terms of the rollout, the jab is generally for all adults and is also voluntary. There is nothing easy about this rollout.
However, the point is that Zimbabwe has made several gains in the fight against killer diseases and the health sector under the Second Republic has improved immensely, despite challenges.
Said Global Fund Zimbabwe Advocates representative Mr Itai Rusike on the reduction of deaths caused by Aids, TB and malaria: “The Global Fund to Fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria (GFATM) has been supporting public health programming for the past two decades and an amount of US$2,2 billion has been invested in the country and to date a total $1,8 billion has been disbursed.”
Mr Rusike said the country recorded a decline in malaria incidence from 34 cases to 19 cases per 1 000.
“The country has managed to maintain average annual malaria deaths of between 200 and 406 between 2012 and 2017. This is a remarkable achievement when considering that the country reported an estimated 1,2 million malaria cases in 2017 alone,” he said.
Malaria kills around 800 000 people a year and is second only to tuberculosis the leading infectious disease killer in the world. About 1,5 million lives are lost to TB each year.
So, when Zimbabwe manages to reduce malaria and TB deaths, no one can say the health sector is dead.
No one can say the Covid-19 vaccination drive is not worth praising.