Sweden has signed an agreement to contribute 24 million US dollars to the Health Development Fund (HDF), which is managed by two United Nations agencies to help in further strengthening the health delivery system in Zimbabwe.

Speaking at the signing ceremony here Monday, Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Lars

Ronnas said it remained a pressing challenge to bring down the number of mothers who died while giving birth.

"With the agreement we have signed today, Sweden will provide substantial contribution to bring down the maternal mortality rate in Zimbabwe," he added.

"The agreement is part of a collective commitment by the Government of Zimbabwe, UNICEF (UN Children's Fund), UNFPA (UN Population Fund) and Sweden to provide health services of good quality to women, children and young people. These services are also to reach remote areas and for vulnerable groups to access."

The support, which is for the 2016-2020 period, is to be channelled through the Health Development Fund which was designed to ensure that all partners who are willing and able to give support to the health sector use it for easier coordination of resources.

The fund was launched last October to raise 681 million USD. Zimbabwe's Health and Child Care Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa, commended Sweden for the contribution.

"As a country, we would like to thank and acknowledge the support that we have received from Sweden, along with DFID, the European Union, Irish Aid, Canada, and Norway who have supported the Health Transition Fund and we are aware that you have already started putting your support together for the Health Development Fund. Let me thank you for all your efforts," he said.

"On our part as the Ministry, we will make sure that these resources will be put to good use and indeed transparently accounted for."

Acting UNICEF country representative to Zimbabwe, Dr Jane Muita thanked Sweden for the contribution, noting that for the past five years, Sweden's funding to the Health Transition Fund and the Integrated Support Programme had benefitted the health sector and contributed immensely to improved health outcomes for women and children.

The Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey results for 2014 show that maternal deaths have gone down to 614 per 100 000 live births while under five mortality rate also dropped from 84 per 1000 live births in 2010 to 75 per 1 000 live births in 2014.

Source: Nam News Network