Zimbabwe highly values traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and plans to set up a unit at the country’s main hospital in Harare to explore integrating the medicine in Zimbabwe’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at a joint press conference with the visiting team of Chinese medical experts who completed their two-week visit to the country on Friday, Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo said Zimbabwe was keen to tap China’s traditional medicine for the benefit of its population.
“We have plans to use TCM in Zimbabwe. We are lucky that among the team of doctors who are visiting there is a specialist in TCM,” said the minister.
“So we are going to set up a unit at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals. They have already identified the facility where the TCM unit will be based so that we can be able to develop it,” he said.
“TCM is a very useful area which we are seriously looking at. So the visiting doctor who is here is going to lead us in that aspect and when the next team comes we want to see more TCM doctors coming in,” Moyo said.
He added that the country wants to enhance research collaboration with China on development and use of the traditional medicine in curing the virus.
“We would also want to try the other medicines that the Chinese people have been using for COVID-19 and we can have a combined research effort with the Chinese government to also look at our plants and we get advice on how we can develop those herbs and use them,” he said.
Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun said the two-week visit to share and exchange knowledge in fighting the pandemic had been rewarding for both sides.
“Chinese experts learned a lot about how Zimbabwe has been tackling COVID-19 and in turn contributed their knowledge and expertise to Zimbabwe’s fight,” he said.
He said the two-way flow of ideas will go a long way toward defeating the virus and increasing health care cooperation between the two countries.
In addition to technical support, China has donated a significant amount of medical supplies to the country to help it combat the virus.
Guo praised Zimbabwe’s efforts so far in combating the pandemic.
“Since the onset of the first case on March 20, Zimbabwe has put up a good fight against COVID-19. China is also very pleased it has been able to assist Zimbabwe in various ways. The war is not over yet. China’s support will not stop either,” he said.
The team arrived in the country on May 11 and met Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Vice President Kembo Mohadi and World Health Organization officials, among others.
During its visit, the 12-member team of Chinese medical experts engaged with Zimbabwean government ministries and institutions, in addition to touring four of the country’s 10 provinces to share their experience with local medical staff in combating the pandemic.
These areas visited by the team include Harare, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West.
The team also donated medical supplies to the hospitals they visited including Marondera Provincial Hospital, Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital and Mvurwi Hospital.
The team comes from southern China’s Hunan Province and is made up of experts from infectious diseases and respiratory illnesses, intensive medicine, infection control, traditional Chinese medicine as well as public health and nursing.
At the press conference, leader of the Chinese medical team Zhu Yimin presented a report with recommendations on fighting COVID-19 to the Zimbabwean government.
Zhu said measures taken by Zimbabwe to fight the pandemic have been effective so far, as shown by the relatively low number of COVID-19 cases that stand at 51, including 18 recoveries and four deaths since the onset of the outbreak in March.
He urged the Zimbabwean government to continue enforcing preventive and control measures against the pandemic, noting that in the absence of a vaccine or cure for COVID-19, self isolation remained key in curbing the spread of the deadly virus.
The country should also increase community awareness, screening, monitoring and testing for COVID-19, he said.
Zhu added that they were encouraged to note that the Zimbabwean government greatly values the advice and proposals from the Chinese medical experts.
“Our proposals may not be comprehensive enough and our knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country may be limited but we admire the greatness and perseverance of Zimbabwean people and tremendous efforts by the Government of Zimbabwe in dealing with COVID-19,” he said.