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Zimbabwe moots Road Accident Fund

by Staff reporter
10 Oct 2022 at 18:20hrs | Views
Government is mooting the establishment of a Road Accident Fund (RAF) which is aimed at minimising the effects of traffic accidents on the citizenry and the proposal was tabled to traffic stakeholders attending a Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) conference in Victoria Falls recently.

Statistics at the Ministry of Health and Child Care have shown that around 80 percent of national deaths in the five-year-old to 29-years-old category are as a result of road traffic accidents related complications.

Tied to these numerous deaths is also the grim effects of the country's health purse being stretched by patients who would have been injured in road traffic accidents a situation that is having a negative effect on hospitals' ability to deliver on its mandate on other accident unrelated ailments.

This has jolted Government into action leading to the proposal to have the RAF whose proceeds will be used to cater for patient needs that result from traffic mishaps.

Acting Chief Director Policy Planning, Health Economics, Health Informatics, Monitoring and Evaluation Dr Stephen Banda gave details after tabling the proposal on behalf of the health sector.

"Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged five to 29 years. It is therefore clear that road traffic injuries contribute to a lower life expectancy at birth hence the importance of integration of traffic safety and health.

"There is a need for joint resource mobilisation to adequately and effectively respond to road traffic injuries and funding of interventions to ensure traffic safety. Road accident fund will go a long way in assisting accident victims and we have proposed that it should be adopted," said Dr Banda.

"It is important that we come up with strategies that minimise road accidents. But as the name suggests, it is an accident and is bound to happen, so when it happens there is a need to effectively respond to these accidents.

"We record numerous accidents on our roads and they present themselves to health institutions, so for easy management of such cases, an accident insurance system needs to be in place to effectively respond to these cases," said Dr Banda.

The fund entails that RAF is financed by collecting money from road activities like fuel sales, motor vehicle insurances, tollgates among other sources of income generating activities to fund healthcare concerns arising from road accidents.

In other jurisdictions like South Africa the fund is responsible for rehabilitating and compensating persons injured as a result of motor vehicles in a timely and caring manner as well as promoting the safe use of roads.

According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 1.3 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes and more than half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

The proposal to adopt the RAF immediately got the backing of an experienced medical practitioner and specialist surgeon Mr George Vera.

"It is absolutely the right direction. You have to put up with the world's trends. We need to keep up our funding. I am a proponent of the road accident fund. There is a lot of money being spent on those injured in road traffic accidents. The ministry of health is taking the cost from the health budget.

"Why don't we, like other countries in Africa, get that money specifically for the road accident victims," said Mr Vera.

He gave an example that Zimbabwe consumes an approximate 1,5 billion litres of fuel per year, and if the health sector gets 5cents per litre they would take something like US$75 million from fuel remittances.

"If the Ministry of Health gets even half of that it will make a lot of difference. I would like this country to adopt the road accident fund. Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland they are collecting millions.

"Funding is very important and I sympathise with government that they are finding difficulties to find other sources of revenue but there is one staring at them, let's do it. We are not inventing the wheel here."

Source - The Herald
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