Despite strong sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, the US government vows to increase its funding of Zimbabwe’s health sector.
The US ambassador to Zimbabwe Harry Thomas Jr stated this on Wednesday in the just-concluded Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA).
Thomas said the US President Donald J Trump plans to keep on the US funding of the poverty-ravaged country by increasing its fund levels, particularly Zimbabwe’s health sector.
He, however, noted that the US government would maintain its sanctions on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, for violating the democratic rights of the people and electoral fraud in previous polls.
“We are very heartened that our Congress just passed the budget within the last few days and our President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) funding is remaining constant. In fact, it will likely grow to almost $150m next year,” said Thomas.
Trump’s decision to put much more efforts in helping Zimbabwe comes at the time the country’s President, Robert Mugabe travelled to Singapore for his “routine medical check-up”
The veteran, who insisted on leading the country n the coming years, until he finally dies, flew out of the country on Monday and is expected to return at the weekend to preside over the burial National Hero, retired Chief Justice Geoffrey Chidyausike.
Mugabe’s administration has long been blamed for helping the spread of the country’s political and socio-economic fallout through his economic policies and his refusal to resign following his ill health.
Mugabe’s government, however, argued that the West was targeting it for embarking on land reforms which resulted in the displacement of thousands of white commercial farmers and their employees in 2000.
Thomas said that Washington would maintain, and even increase, HIV funding levels in Zimbabwe, despite a change in administration.
“This means we are able to continue saving lives through PEPFAR as well as feed about 2.4 million people a day in Zimbabwe through other assistance programmes,” said Thomas.
Since 2006, PEPFAR has provided nearly $800m to Zimbabwe for HIV interventions.
Zimbabwe’s health sector has been in bad shape following inadequate funding as the country generally depended on donor support and direct budget support to run the public health institutions.
The health sector has, as a result, failed to provide adequate services to its citizens especially those who do not have medical insurance.
The country’s Health Development Fund appears to be playing a critical role in reducing the country’s maternal mortality rate and improving the general situation in the health sector.
The Zimbabwean Health Minister Dr. David Parirenyatwa, said the country’s maternal mortality rate remains high, but interventions such as the establishment of maternity waiting homes at various health facilities in rural areas is helping in bringing it down.