International Partnerships

Team Europe in Zimbabwe – working for better health outcomes for women and children

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Team Europe is helping improve health outcomes for women and children in Zimbabwe through its support for the Health Development Fund. This multi-donor fund provides resources for maternal and children’s health and gender-based violence programmes. Led by Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care and implemented by UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund UNFPA, the fund receives contributions from a number of development partners, including the European Union, Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the GAVI vaccine alliance.

Kangaroo mother care - a method used to for low birth weight babies give them extra warmth
Kangaroo mother care - a method used to care for low birth weight babies to give them extra warmth © European Union
Mother holding a baby
Mother holding a baby © European Union

Team Europe’s support for the Health Development Fund is an example of the critical role it has played in keeping basic maternal, child, and sexual and reproductive health services going in Zimbabwe, despite an ever more fragile economy and a complex and growing humanitarian crisis. In June 2020, the EU boosted its existing funding with a €6.5 million top-up for the fund. The health sector is a key area of EU support for Zimbabwe from the 11th European Development Fund, and the EU has provided over €108.26 million to the Health Development Fund since 2016.

We are pleased to work closely with the EU Delegation and the Embassy of Sweden as part of our Team Europe contribution
- Ambassador-designate of Ireland to Zimbabwe, Fionnuala Gilsenan

Ambassador-designate of Ireland to Zimbabwe, Fionnuala Gilsenan, says: “Ireland has supported the Health Development Fund since its inception, contributing a total of €11.4 million over the past five years. We believe that it is important, now more than ever, to focus on building resilient health systems and improving access to healthcare for women and children. We are pleased to work closely with the EU Delegation and the Embassy of Sweden as part of our Team Europe contribution to this important area of work.

Team Europe’s support can also be seen in the broader context of its global response to the fight against COVID-19 and its support for partner countries around the world. The Health Development Fund has adapted its work to support the Government of Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 National Response Plan. All partners recognise the risks to the provision of general health services for women and children. That is why the adapted plan strikes an appropriate balance between COVID-19 preparedness and response on the one hand and, on the other, a continued focus on the fund’s core mandate of reducing maternal and child mortality. Maintaining this balance will be a core focus for the remainder of 2020 and will be monitored closely by all partners involved. 

Male involvement in immunisation - a healthcare worker explains to new father how use the health card
Male involvement in immunisation - a healthcare worker explains to a new father how to use the health card © European Union
Pregnant mother being examined during an antenatal care visit
Pregnant mother being examined during an antenatal care visit © European Union

The Health Development Fund is now in its fifth and final year. Team Europe looks forward to working with partners on a successor programme to the Health Development Fund, which will be responsive to the unfolding humanitarian crisis, while maintaining a focus on strengthening the national health system and targeting resources to secure better health outcomes for women and children.