Boost health spending: Doctors

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government should boost health spending in the face of increasing public concern about the appalling state of healthcare.

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights spokesperson Fortune Nyamande told the Daily News on Sunday, government should increase the national health budget allocation to meet the Abuja Declaration of 15 percent.

Seventeen years after the Zimbabwe government pledged in the Abuja declaration to allocate at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to healthcare by 2015, it has dismally failed to meet this goal.

Last year, Treasury allocated $400 million to the Health and Child Care ministry representing 7,7 percent of the $5,1 billion budget.

This comes after Parliament held countrywide health budget consultations, with many demanding that the State improve public healthcare facilities and that government officials be treated locally.

“The new dispensation must show its newness by having a different approach from its predecessor who relegated health care to the peripheries whilst prioritising security-related ministries.

“We say that the national security begins with healthy individuals, healthy families and a healthy nation,” Nyamande said.

“Secondly we look at the structuring of the allocation towards health care — we urge the minister of Finance to be futuristic by investing in resuscitating local drug manufacturers, prioritising skilled health worker retention and revamping dilapidated infrastructure at central, provincial and district hospitals.

“Thirdly, we urge the ministry to jointly work with the ministry of Health and Child Care to regulate the medical insurance industry.

“We believe the government cannot provide health with its own resources hence the need to promulgate a new law that promotes a viable partnership with the insurance industry that encourages pooling of resources from business. The world over, private-public-partnerships are now the way to go,” Nyamande said, adding what is needed is the requisite political will and civil society will aid the policy process by continually pushing for these issues on to the political agendas.

Nyamande said there is also need to ensure that the Patients’ Charter is well known and patients know of their rights and responsibilities at health care facilities.

He said  with the introduction of the two percent tax, there should be no excuses in failing to fund heath as the resources to fund health expenditure will be readily available.

“There is chronic shortages of drugs both emergency and essential drugs, loss of skilled supervision, long working hours, late presentation to hospital by patients due to funding challenges and obsolete equipment. ZADHR has for long challenged the government to relook at out health care financing model.

“Transiting from the out of pocket model to other sustainable health financing approaches that blend the current health insurance programs to accessible and cheap community health insurance for the poor and those in the informal sectors will help pool resources whilst increasing accessibility of health care. Ultimately it is a matter of a political commitment,” Nyamande said.

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