WHO donates medical equipment to Zimbabwe

HARARE, Jun 20, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The World Health Organization on Wednesday donated drugs, medical supplies and equipment worth 964 million U.S. dollars for the control of AIDS, cholera, malaria and other diseases in Zimbabwe.

The donation includes 14 motorbikes, a motor vehicle, generators, fridges, water purification tablets, 40,000 units of ARVs, emergency health kits, neverapine drugs and other medicines.

When accepting the equipment, Zimbabwe's Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa said malaria and cholera were major health challenges in the country, and his ministry's goal was to reverse the increasing frequency of cholera outbreaks and the associated morbidity and mortality.

"Cholera in Zimbabwe was first recorded in 1972 and after that outbreaks were recorded on a 10 year cycle. This trend was observed until the late 1990s where the frequency of outbreaks increased to a five year cycle and since 2000 outbreaks have been recorded annually," said Parirenyatwa.

The minister said WHO had enabled the ministry to respond swiftly to the outbreaks in any part of the country and achieve the goal of rapid response.

He said the consignment would be distributed to all provinces where they would be maintained as emergency stocks. "The distribution list for the items has already been drawn up and provinces will start collecting their stocks this week," he said.

The continued support of training programs aimed at cholera prevention and control, like the participatory health and hygiene education and integrated surveillance and response, had capacitated health workers in managing the disease, he said, adding that case fatality in the institutions had remained at less than 1 percent.

Speaking at the same function, outgoing WHO resident representative Evaristo Njelesani said they were committed to improving the health standards in the country.

"WHO is geared towards the provision of maternal health care especially in emergency situations and to prevent pneumonia in children among other diseases," said Njelesani.

He said they would continue to provide medical kits to handle cholera, malaria and AIDS.