Vice President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday met Swiss President Alain Berset to whom he delivered a message from President Mnangagwa, as well as discussing about strengthening of economic cooperation, with Swiss companies already ramping up their investments in Zimbabwe.
The VP and Minister of Health and Child Care is in Switzerland for the 5th Patient Safety Global Ministerial Summit at the invitation of Mr Berset.
Switzerland, which already has companies with interests in Zimbabwe, is one of the first world capitals that is interested in ramping up its investment portfolio in the country.
Swiss interest comes on the back of the Second Republic’s policy of ease of doing business, with President Mnangagwa himself taking a leading role on that front. Switzerland boasts of one of the world’s highly developed economies and the strength of the economy primarily is due to its international goodwill and strong ties with other economies.
VP Chiwenga and President Berset touched on a key item about Swiss companies who have signed deals for investment in Zimbabwe.
“Initially, I gave him the bilateral greetings from his colleague His Excellency Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, he sent me with greetings to him,” Vice President Chiwenga said after the meeting.
“We discussed quite a lot of the issues that affect the health sector and the assistance which the Swiss have given us. Swiss companies have even invested in the cannabis oil in Zimbabwe.
“We have been having meetings with some of their pharmaceutical companies here in Switzerland, Roche and Novartis AG, in which we have signed memorandums of understanding with them so that we can get medicines and equipment from here.
“They (Switzerland) are very specialised in the pharmaceutical industry. They also have industries in Zimbabwe. Lafarge is from here; Bata Shoe Company is from here; Nestle Zimbabwe is from here. So, they have quite a few companies which they have maintained and they are growing.
“So, we touched on the economic side of the areas of cooperation and we touched on my area of health and also we touched on their role as they are in the UN Security Council now. So, we touched on a number of areas. It was a very good meeting.”
After the meeting, discussions are expected to be stepped up by experts and Government officials for operationalisation.
Meanwhile, VP Chiwenga told the Patient Safety Summit that Zimbabwe was digitising its health management systems, formulating quality assurance frameworks and was open to strategic partnerships as it sought to guarantee patient safety in its hospitals.
To achieve its goal and augment Government financing, Zimbabwe would need strategic partnerships.
Authorities have the opportunity to take advantage of best practice and momentum gained in the Covid-19 crisis period and Zimbabwe had established a national directorate to coordinate and maintain patient safety in its health facilities.
“Leveraging on the experience and know-how available in Swiss companies like SICPA on fuel marking and product tracing technology, we wish to establish strategic partnership for easy tracking of medical commodities to improve and strengthen Ministry Of Health and Child Care supply chain systems,” said VP Chiwenga.
“Establishment of fully fledged electronic health records and a national health data repository using our home-grown electronic health records system called Impilo, and advocating for capacity development in Zimbabwe for production of vaccines, medicines, and other medical commodities.
“We have established a directorate responsible for quality assurance and patient safety. Our national quality assurance and patient safety policy and strategy was developed using the steps of the WHO national quality policy and strategy.
“The Covid-19 pandemic provided an opportunity to review and improve safety guidelines, administrative and engineering practices, medication and vaccine safety, supply-chains, general quality response to emergencies and manufacturing of sanitisers and protective clothing.
“We seek strategic partnerships to further strengthen, scale up and sustain the best practices realised during the crisis period.”
Zimbabwe remains supportive of the theme: “Less Harm, Better Care – From Resolution to Implementation”.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the concept of patient safety was as old as medicine itself.
“Unsafe care not only takes a huge toll on patients, their families and communities, it also leads to a loss of trust in health systems,” he said. “WHO is currently developing recommendations for protecting patient safety during emergencies.
President Berset said the Covid-19 pandemic reminded the world that health workers were a key element for patient safety.