Unicef offers $5mn to improve Zimbabwe’s health system

January 18th, 2009 - 10:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Harare, Jan 18 (Xinhua) The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) has given $5 million to Zimbabwe to improve the country’s health facilities and fight cholera epidemic.Unicef executive director Ann Veneman Saturday said the grant is a temporary measure and part of a larger initiative to provide incentives to health care workers to keep them in their jobs.

She said the situation in Zimbabwe called for life-saving interventions. More than 2,000 people have been killed in this South African nation following the outbreak of cholera in August last year.

“The health care workers will receive their incentives through a trust fund that has been set up. We want to make it clear that the payments are not salaries, but incentives for transport to enable them to come to work,” she added.

“From a humanitarian perspective, we need to be planning in regards to rebuilding systems that include water and sanitation. We want children to have good nutrition, education and protection. Child rights should be protected comprehensively,” she said.

The $5 million came a day after Veneman met Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and other key stakeholders, The Sunday Mail reported.

“Over the next four months, Unicef will support the drilling of 100 boreholes in areas that need water. The UN agency has also been providing 70 percent of the country’s essential medicines,” she noted.

Unicef, other UN agencies, SADC (the Southern African Development Community) countries, the business community and other non-governmental organisations have been responding to the emergency by providing vital equipment to cholera treatment centres, the newspaper said.

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