Two major United Nations (UN) agencies have dismissed as false and malicious, reports in some sections of the private media claiming they have been barred by the Government from participating in Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 programmes.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said they were continuing to enjoy an excellent working relationship with the Government.
WHO yesterday said Zimbabwe was one of the leading countries in following science and the prescribed guidelines in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In separate interviews yesterday, WHO country representative Dr Alex Gasasira and UNICEF Zimbabwe representative Mrs Laylee Moshiri denied that they had been told to stop participating in local Covid-19 programmes and pledged to continue their support.
“We have not received any communication from any part of Government asking us to stop the services we are providing, so we continue to provide these services,” said Dr Gasasira.
“Our relationship with the Government of Zimbabwe is a very professional relationship. As you may recall at different stages of this response, even before Covid-19 in all areas of health, Government has really closely followed the guidance that WHO has been providing to member States.
“We have not received any communication to terminate any relationship whatsoever. We have not received any communication from the ministry asking us not to be involved in the Covid-19 vaccination efforts. We continue to work closely with the ministry and various pillars as well as other ministries in the Covid-19 response,” said Mrs Moshiri.
“We have a close working relationship with a number of ministries which deal directly and indirectly with the children and the Ministry of Health and Child Care is one of our key ministries which we work very directly with on a daily basis on a number of areas, including the Covid-19 response.
“I think there is a good (Covid-19) response and we continue to support it so that it caters for the existing circumstances,” she said.
WHO also hailed Zimbabwe’s efforts in curbing the pandemic, praising the way Government had adhered to science, rating it as one of the best in terms of response.
The UN agency also outlined the assistance they had given Zimbabwe in preparing for the ongoing vaccination programme which was following best international practices.
“Zimbabwe has been a leader in implementing WHO guidelines and since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has followed science and has followed guidance.
“We have been working very closely to contextualise global WHO guidelines and recommendations to the situation in the country and this has been working very well,” said Dr Gasasira.
Dr Gasasira said WHO had been assisting the Government for several months even before they knew which vaccine was coming to Zimbabwe.
“We supported the Government, worked closely with them in developing the national vaccine development plan. This plan is in line with the framework that has been shared with all member states. It has been contextualised to Zimbabwe’s situation.
“So we have been providing technical support in this regard. We have also provided technical support in terms of preparing training programmes for the teams that will be administering vaccines,” said Dr Gasasira.
In a statement last night, the Ministry of Health Child and Care said they valued the support they were receiving from international organisations and urged the media to be responsible and to report fairly and truthfully.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care notes with concern, an article published by the Zimbabwe Independent on February 26, 2021, alleging that Government, through the Permanent Secretary, Air Commodore, Dr Jasper Chimedza, has suspended WHO and UNICEF from participating in Covid-19 programmes,” reads part of the statement.
“The ministry would like to dismiss the claim as malicious and intended to cause unnecessary alarm and despondency.
“No communication suspending either or both WHO or UNICEF or any other partners from participating in the national effort to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic was ever made.
“The ministry values all partners’ support and will continue to work with them in all public health related matters.”