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Mthuli Ncube on cliff edge as hospitals crumble

by Staff reporter
03 Nov 2023 at 14:55hrs | Views
The Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) has urged Finance and Investment Promotion Minister Mthuli Ncube to adhere to a regional agreement requiring governments to allocate 15% of their budgets to healthcare if Zimbabwe is genuinely committed to reviving deteriorating hospitals and preventing a healthcare staff exodus. This call was made in a document presented to the government.

Zimbabwe fell short of this target in the 2023 National Budget by allocating only 11% of the total budget to healthcare. Minister Ncube is expected to present the 2024 budget later this month, but he faces a challenging task given the dire state of healthcare facilities and a range of macroeconomic challenges, including foreign currency shortages and a severe power crisis.

In its position paper on the budget, CWGH highlighted the human toll of neglecting healthcare and the damage caused by recurrent cholera outbreaks. The organization stated, "The country has made some progress in terms of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages, but challenges like an insufficient and depleted healthcare workforce, a high disease burden, resurgent cholera outbreaks, inadequate maintenance of healthcare infrastructure, and ill-equipped hospitals persist."

CWGH emphasized the need to allocate at least 15% of the National Budget to the healthcare sector, in line with the Abuja Declaration target. In 2001, African Union member states, including Zimbabwe, committed to dedicating at least 15% of their budgets to the health sector, but fulfilling this pledge has been a struggle, with larger allocations sometimes going to defense and other recurring expenses.

Apart from cholera, the country's healthcare system was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic between 2020 and 2022, with its repercussions still being felt. The allocation of funds to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) was emphasized by health expert Hamadziripi Dube, who believes that the focus should be on preventing, diagnosing, and treating NCDs, as they are major causes of mortality. Dube called for an increased budget for NCDs and improvements in wages, salaries, and capital budgets for hospitals.

Johannes Marisa, the president of the Medical/Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe, expressed concerns about the state of the country's healthcare sector. He pointed out that NCDs contribute significantly to global deaths and called for a higher budget allocation to address these diseases. Marisa emphasized the importance of research, health education, epidemiology, and health promotion, all of which require increased funding to combat the impact of NCDs on mortality and morbidity rates.

Source - the independent