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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Natpharm warehouse receives a solar boost

Story by Memory Chamisa

THE Second Republic is making strides in addressing power challenges in the health sector after the installation of a solar system with a capacity of more than 200 kilowatts at the National Pharmaceutical Company (Natpharm) warehouse in Masvingo.

With 640 solar panels, generating 201 kilowatts, the installation of the solar system is a timely intervention at the warehouse where operations were being affected by power outages.

Natpharm is mandated to procure, store, and distribute medical supplies in Zimbabwe on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

Natpharm Masvingo Branch Manager, Ms Linda Chamboko summed up the impact of the project on the health sector.

“Before we benefitted from the solar project, the company used to have power challenges during load shedding. We could not power cold rooms that housed vaccines that needed cooling at certain temperatures.

“It also helped to cut the costs on generators that we relied on when power outages occurred as we now rely on solar energy. The medicines that we store have temperature requirements that they need to be stored vaccines like Arvs, TB, and malaria need temperatures of about 15 to 25 degrees Celsius, so on a hot day the temperatures rise but because of the solar system we can maintain the heating, cooling, and ventilation system and preserve the quality of the medicines,” she noted.

“We have two cold rooms where we store COVID vaccines, anti-snake venoms, maternal and child care medicines, and rabies vaccines through the solar project we are now able to store them between 2 to 8 degrees with no temperature fluctuations.

“We are now also able to go for 3 to 4 days continuous power supply through the solar system,” she added.

Masvingo Provincial Medical Director, Dr Kamadeus Shamu is grateful for the Solar project which has enhanced service delivery in the province.

“The partnership between the Ministry of Health and Child Care and UNDP through the Global Fund in Masvingo Province we have about 100 facilities that have benefitted. The incessant power cuts being experienced in the country had made services difficult but the installation of solar systems has hugely improved our work. Maintenance of medicine and vaccines, what we call a cold chain has been maintained through the solar systems.,” said Dr Shamu

The project was made possible through a partnership between the government’s development partners, UNDP through support from the Global Fund in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

The programme has seen over 1045 solar systems being installed at health institutions across the country at a cost of over US$20 million to ensure uninterrupted power supply to critical health departments such as maternity, intensive care units, operation theatres, pharmacies, and laboratories.

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