By Daniel Chigundu
HEALTH and Child Care Permanent Secretary Gerald Gwinji has called on treasury to avail more funds to the country’s health sector to enable it to cope with such eventualities as flooding and disease outbreaks.
Earlier this year Zimbabwe was hit by a double cyclone wave in Deneo and La Nina which displaced a lot of people in the rural areas and also destroyed properties.
The displaced people faced many challenges that range from medical, social and even nutritional problems prompting government to send an SOS to development partners and donors to avert the impending crisis.
Appearing before a Parliamentary Committee on Health and Child Care, Gwinji said his ministry cannot stop natural disasters from occurring but need adequate funding to help in the response.
“As we respond to these various outbreak and emergency situations we are heavily dependent, material resources-wise, on partners. This presents a high risk to the country should such assistance be unavailable. We continue to urge treasury to support health,” he said.
Financially challenged Zimbabwe mainly depends on the donor community and development partners for most of its health interventions as treasury doesn’t have financial leg-room to meet all the costs.
There has however been an outcry by the health sector over the allocation of funds from treasury during national budgets, arguing that health deserves to get the bigger chunk owing to its importance to human survival.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa in his US$4.1 billion 2017 National Budget allocated about US$301 660 000 to the health sector, while defense got US$357 975 00, Primary and secondary education US$783 300 000 and Home Affair got about US$384 321 000.
The country’s response to such diseases as HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB is mostly financed by donors through the Global Fund, USAid, Expanded Support Program (ESP) and DFID among many others.
Government initiated Aids Levy, although it has received praises as one of the best home grown solutions has not been able to do much owing to the informalisation of the economy.
According to Gwinji, government had to rope in development partners and UN agencies to help in the response activities for such diseases as diarrhea, typhoid and cholera.
The partners assisted in the procurement and distribution of water treatment chemicals for use at household level, supporting case investigation in the community, procurement of medicines, construction of treatment centres and other related logistics.