To address challenges Zimbabwe faces in providing timely, affordable, safe and quality surgical services, the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) launched its first National Surgical, Obstetric and Anaesthesia Strategy (NSOAS) 2022-2025 on 30 September 2022. The strategy will promote access to surgical services from district level, a positive move towards strengthening primary health care as 83% of key tracer surgical operations were being performed at central and provincial hospitals. Furthermore, the strategic document will address infrastructure and equipment related gaps that exist in essential surgical care despite improvements done as part of the COVID-19 response infrastructural investments. Henceforth, Zimbabwe becomes the 5th Country in the SADC Region and 9th in Africa to develop and launch its NSOAS. This follows the WHA 68.15 resolution which recognized the central role of surgery and anesthesia care in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The NSOAS is timely as Zimbabwe is dealing with a double burden of both communicable and non-communicable diseases, with NCDs being 5th of the top 10 leading causes of death in the country. Several of these NCDs require surgical interventions and the new strategy will address the burden of disease amenable to surgical care in Zimbabwe.
“By launching this strategy as Zimbabwe, we are showing our commitment and taking a positive step in meeting our international obligations. What is now left is the implementation and translating this strategic document into action,” said Vice President and MoHCC Minister Dr Constantino Chiwenga during the launch.
“My Ministry is calling for additional investments required to tackle the emerging challenge of NCDs, which include conditions amenable to surgical care,” added Dr Chiwenga.
The development of the NSOAS began in 2018 under MoHCC leadership and adopted a Whole of Government and Whole of Society, approach, which saw stronger participation of stakeholders in the process towards the realization of this strategic policy document. MoHCC was supported with financial and technical assistance from the WHO and the SDG3 GAP Signatory Partners (UNICEF, UNFPA, The World Bank/GFF), SADC SOA Technical Experts Working Group (TEWG) and various professional associations in the field of SOA.
The NSOAS is aligned to the National Health Strategy (2021 -2025) which seeks to achieve the highest possible level of health and quality of life for all people in Zimbabwe by 2030.
The implementation of NSOA strategy is going to ensure that all people in need of Surgical, Obstetrics and Anaesthesia (SOA) services receive quality and timely care at all levels of the healthcare system. In addition, improving access to surgical services will not only save lives but improve human capital, thus contributing substantially to economic growth in Zimbabwe and the region. Also, by prioritizing surgical care in the health care agenda, financial risk protection for patients is also improved.
“This National Surgical, Obstetric&Anaesthesia Strategy will strengthen the health system in Zimbabwe by guiding investments towards provision and improving the capacity to deliver surgical care at the district hospital level as a means to attaining Universal Health Coverage, Equitable Access and Quality,” said WHO Country Representative Dr Alex Gasasira in a speech read on his behalf by Technical Officer Dr Thenjiwe Sisimayi.
I would like to call upon leaders at all levels to mobilize resources to support the implementation of this strategy to benefit the patients in need of surgical care,” added Dr Thenjiwe Sisimayi.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organzation (WHO) - Zimbabwe.