VICE President Constantino Chiwenga arrived in Lome, Togo last night to join global health leaders attending the 72nd session of the World Health Organisation regional committee for Africa that started on Monday.
The conference is held annually to aggregate and co-ordinate a concerted global response to health challenges facing the world.
This year’s edition comes as Zimbabwe’s healthcare is being revamped to align with Vision 2030 of an upper middle income society as enunciated by President Mnangagwa.
Zimbabwe has a high level representation at this meeting after President Mnangagwa deployed his deputy, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care.
Zimbabwe has lately earned global commendation for the manner in which it handled the Covid-19 pandemic, coming through the waves in good shape, lower infection and death rates than many countries, and continued economic growth despite the burdens placed on tourism and hospitality industries.
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus has been in Lome since Monday.
Prior to VP Chiwenga’s arrival, Zimbabwe’s delegation told global peers that it had so far identified gaps in the country’s healthcare that hinder capacity to attain the WHO standards on combating non-communicable diseases, and is working on addressing those gaps.
These conditions are things like hypertension, diabetes and cancers.
Ministry of Health and Child Care programme manager for non-communicable diseases, Ms Venus Mushininga, said:
“We are glad to see that the WHO-PEN Plus Strategy addresses the gaps noted.
“One of the gaps noted was the unavailability of essential medicines and diagnostics. We would like to propose that on the issue of resources, we consider models that promote sustainability as non-communicable diseases interventions are expensive to implement.
“We propose that we integrate and leverage on resources in other programmes such as HIV/Aids.
“We also recommend the full participation of people living with non-communicable diseases in all activities.”
Ms Mushininga also proposed data management for non-communicable diseases, adding that Zimbabwe fully supports the adoption of the regional strategy to address severe non-communicable diseases at first-level referral facilities, the primary health clinics, in the drive towards attaining universal health coverage.
Many participants supported the adoption of the package to confront non-communicable diseases.
Speaking about mental health in another plenary, Ms Mushininga said Zimbabwe supports the adoption of the framework to strengthen the implementation of the comprehensive mental health action plan 2013 to 2030.
“Zimbabwe is currently rolling out the Zimbabwe special initiative for mental health strategic framework.
“The Zimbabwe investment case in mental health services was launched on 21 July 2021 and has provided a mental health situation analysis, an institutional context analysis, and economic analysis,” said Ms Mushininga.
On Monday, the first day of the meeting, Dr Ghebreyesus congratulated governments for their efforts in tackling Covid-19, which had prevented face-to-face meetings in the last two years.