Hospital builds $700k hospital facility

HARARE - A $700 000 central vaccine storage facility being built at Parirenyatwa Hospital is set to be completed by end of this month, a government official has said.

Gerald Gwinji, Health ministry permanent secretary said the vaccine storehouse would significantly increase the country’s capacity for drug preservation and storage.

“We are happy with the progress and we believe we are almost in line with our target,” said Gwinji during a site tour on Wednesday. “We expect it to be complete by end of this month.

In the meantime, the interim vaccination has to go on that is why we have that temporary structure.

“We have a better structure which can store more vaccines and it contains thrice as much as this temporary one.

“This will take care of our usual drugs stock and also the newer ones we are bringing into the country,” he said.

Two drugs for children are long awaited in the country namely the rotavirus vaccine for diarrhoea and the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine for cervical cancer.

Portia Manangazira, director of epidemiology and disease control in the ministry said the development was timely, considering the growing vaccine demand in Zimbabwe.

“The one that was run down was built a long way back when we were vaccinating children for six diseases only,” she said. “Now we are almost reaching 12 antigens for these children.

“Some are oral and others need to be injected meaning they come with a lot of volumes that require quite an amount of storage. Over and above, these vaccines contain biological material. They require a very narrow temperature range throughout the process.”

Manangazira said they wanted to decentralise the vaccine stores.

“We also need to upgrade provincial vaccine stores,” she said.

“We are particularly worried about the Matabeleland provinces. You will appreciate that Matabeleland North currently does not have a district hospital, even Mat South and their vaccines are kept in Bulawayo instead of their provinces.

“So it is something that needs to be looked into because these vaccines need to be kept close to the children.”

According to Manangazira, this development was crucial when the country is vetted for international donor community assistance and also facilitates the reduction of diarrhoea cases among children.

Around 40 to 50 percent of diarrhoea cases affecting children are attributed to Rotavirus.

Manangazira said government aimed to start rolling out the vaccines by the end of March.

Diarrhoea affected 548 252 and killed 509 people last year.

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