Zim slashes healthcare budget

HARARE - Twelve years after African governments pledged in the Abuja Declaration to allocate at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to healthcare by 2015, Zimbabwe is consistently failing to meet this goal.

The impoverished country is spending a meagre 6 percent of its $4,1 billion annual budget on health, according to data compiled by the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH).

Itai Rusike, the CWGH executive director, said it was disappointing that government continues to fail to fulfill the Abuja Declaration.

“The 2015 budget allocation is only 6, 3 percent of the total national budget which falls far short of the Abuja target,” Rusike said in a post-budget analysis issued yesterday.

“The per capita allocation is $26, which will not meet the $34 WHO (World Health Organisation) recorded minimum expenditure and the cost of the essential health package of $74.

“With such resources, the ministry cannot deliver fully, except at the rural health centre, where the package costs about $16.

“While in previous years, the Health and Child Care ministry has been prioritised by virtue of coming second, behind the ministry of Primary and Secondary education — for the 2015 budget, it has been relegated to 5th position”.

In 2014, allocation to the ministry of Health and Child Care was $337 million but the allocation has dropped to $301 million.

This is despite Zimbabwe’s public healthcare system crumbling under increasing demand, continued poor access to care, and high out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare.

Rusike said government should re-align its allocations with global trends to allow for systematic allocation of resources and maximum community participation.

“The principle that health is a basic and a fundamental human right can never be overemphasised,” he said.

“There is therefore a need to implement a ‘needs based resource allocation method’ that recognises different needs by different hospitals, health facilities and districts in particular.”

The health sector is heavily dependent on the international donor funding while staff morale is low due to poor remuneration.

The majority of Zimbabweans cannot afford basic health care services and government is financially crippled to subsidise services.

Rusike said government needs a concrete post donor plan which is viable in case external partners pull-out from funding primary health care.

“Should they pull out, the country might see a reversal of the gains it has made in for example reducing maternal and child mortality,” he said.

“While the government has allocated some money for the RBF (results-based funding) programme as sign that it is aware of these temporary funds, the funds nonetheless remain glaringly inadequate,” he said.

Rusike said the current dispute between doctors and the government on contraction of real wages in the sector reflect an inadequate industrial relations system to manage the issue.

According to Rusike, government should consider taxing products with high sugar content and ensuring that medical aid societies pay tax on investments outside core businesses as a way of increasing domestic funding.

Comments (3)

well the rich go to singapore for treatment who cares for the poor

Povo - 15 December 2014

So much for our claim to be better educated that our African brothers when we can't run our own country. But then of course it is not our fault!

saundy - 15 December 2014

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.