-we are now able to store our medicines for three to four days without electricity which is a cost-cutting measure for NatPharm
HARARE, Zimbabwe – UNDP’s Solar for Health (S4H) project, has transformed drug storage at National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) Masvingo branch, located 295 km south of Harare.
Masvingo NatPharm had 640 solar panels installed with a total power output of 201 kilowatts, some of which are now being off-loaded to the national grid.
NatPharm is a pharmaceutical warehouse and distribution entity for the Zimbabwean government.
“Before we benefited from the solar project, we used to have power challenges during load shedding, whereby we could not power our cold rooms and the essentials, that we require.
It helped to cut the cost as we were relying on generators that needed 20litres, of diesel when there were power cuts,” NatPharm Branch Manager for Masvingo, Linda Chamboko, told journalists on Tuesday.
Courtesy of the Ministry of Health and Child Care supported by UNDP and Global Fund, a team of Zimbabwean journalists are on a tour of the Southern region to assess the impact of Solar For Health initiative.
Chamboko added that the normal medicines, ARVs, drugs for TB and Malaria, require certain storage temperatures but in hot seasons this was difficult.
Solar for Health has helped NatPharm preserve the quality of the drugs following the World Health Organisation guidelines.
Previously NatPharm used to have a small branch, with no power backup, so to maintain effective cold chain, some drugs that require very low temperatures, were stored at the general hospital.
“We are now able to store our vaccines like the COVID-19 vaccines, the maternal and child health medicines, the rabies vaccines, the anti-snake venoms, that require between 2-8 degrees Celsius,
We are now able to store our medicines for three to four days without electricity which is a cost-cutting measure for NatPharm,” Linda Chamboko, said.
-solar for health project
UNDP, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, secured funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria (GFATM) for Solar Systems installations at public health institutions in Zimbabwe.
This, was in response to frequent electricity blackouts which compromised the provision of quality healthcare services and the safety of patients such that babies were delivered, under candlelight.
From 2016 over US$ 250 million has been invested through Solar for Health to strengthen the fight against HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria.
UNDP intends to deliver 1600 solar installations but has to date done 1045 countrywide.
Apart from the NatPharm installation in Masvingo, another 140-kilowatt solar system was done for the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ).
Zimbabwe has an electricity installed capacity of 2900 megawatts (MW) and currently generates an average of 1400 megawatts (MW) against a peak demand of 1700MW.
The deficit, has resulted in serious power outage, countrywide