In Zimbabwe, Improving Healthcare Clinic by Clinic

18 Feb 2014

imageA pharmaceutical storage room at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, being constructed by UNDP/Global Fund as part of a capacity development initiative targeting 41 health facilities in the country.

Overseeing routine work at the E.T Watson clinic, Ms. Ivy Chiyani, the sister-in-charge would like her patients to receive good healthcare but the limited physical space stymies her best efforts. “We have just opened an opportunistic infections (OI) clinic and therefore we need more room to keep the Antiretroviral drugs,” she says.

On this particular day 5 February 2014,  in the tiny waiting room the clinic is overwhelmed with patients. Pregnant mothers and children compete for attention with the elderly and the sickly, sometimes leading to minor scuffles but generally the situation is calm.

When it was established in 1958, the E.T Watson medical clinic, located just a few kilometres from Bulawayo city centre was meant to cater for a handful of patients. Five and half decades later, the same clinic attends to hundreds of patients daily, including dozens of persons living with HIV-related illnesses.

“We receive about 200 patients daily, and with our limited space, this is a big challenge” relates Ms. Chiyanike, adding that “the renovation of the clinic will greatly improve patient welfare and general working environment.”

Thanks to the UNDP-administered Global Fund grants, the clinic is currently being renovated. The works include provision of a standard pharmaceutical   storage room and ablution facilities. The development is part of a US $2.2 million capacity development package targeting 41 health facilities in Zimbabwe.

Under the plan, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), UNDP and UNOPS (UN Office for Project Services) are collaborating on the capacity development effort to strengthen the supply chain management system to ensure that quality health products are delivered timely to the end user.

“Capacity development in this programme is about making people, resources and systems work better together towards better health outcomes,” states Mr. Rasmus Jeppesen, a UNDP capacity development consultant.

As we have seen in Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo, this means that new reporting skills, IT investments and a redesigned health information system all come together to enable better decision making in the MoHCC by producing more timely and accurate disease surveillance data,” explains Mr. Jeppesen.

In the health ministry, a key component of the capacity development initiative is the introduction of the district health information system version 2 (DHIS-2), in 2013 with support from Global Fund, Centre for Disease Control and the UNICEF-managed Health Transition Fund.

 “The new system will ensure the availability of real-time data and information for decision making, allowing the ministry to detect and respond to outbreaks or other health events early,” explains Dr. Nyika, deputy director of Health Information System (HIS) in the Ministry of Health and Child Care “The design and flexibility of this system will allow the ministry to incorporate other programme databases into the national data repository,” he says.

Expressing Global Fund’s commitment to Zimbabwe’s efforts towards strengthening the country’s health system, Mr. Perry Mwangala who oversees the country’s portfolio at the Global Fund contends that ongoing capacity development initiatives will have a ripple effect in Zimbabwe as districts benchmark against each other and in the process, improving service delivery countrywide.

“The Global Fund will continue to partner with Zimbabwe to sustain the current systems being set up” stated Mr. Mwangala.

Since 2009 when UNDP took over the management of the Global Fund Grants in Zimbabwe, the Global Fund has approved about US $ 823 million to support the fight in Zimbabwe against HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.