By Staff Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S high dependence on donor support threatens efforts to address family planning issues the country is facing, a top USAID official has said.
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Speaking at the Family Planning Symposium, Hillary Chiguvare from USAID said such foreign dependency was not sustainable adding that it’s time for government to increase its allocation to health.
“There is an agreement now that relying on foreign funding is not sustainable, it actually threatens family planning support and program, I think it’s now time we start walking the talk in terms of increasing domestic allocation from budget towards health.
“I know when government attended the Abuja summit, Zimbabwe’s budget was one of the highest it was almost 12.5 percent but over the years we have seen it gradually coming down, am sure now it’s around 6 percent yet the target and commitment that was made at the time is supposed to be 15 percent from budget allocated to health.
“We need to relook our national priorities, if we do not prioritise family planning and sustainable development then we will not be able to meet the 10 point plan that government is working towards,” he said.
Zimbabwe is currently facing massive financial challenges and is hugely dependent on donor funding for the majority of its response and interventions in the health sector.
Government which has seen 96.3 percent of its revenue going towards employment costs has relied on the Global Fund to meet about 70 percent of the country’s response to HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB, with the remaining 30 percent is shared among other partners and Aids Levy.
However, with global attention beginning to shift towards climate change issues, more donors are also shifting their focus in that direction too.
Earlier this year some of the major state hospitals had to suspend conducting serious operations due to lack of equipment and supplies, putting in danger lives of many people.
Chiguvare also called on government to go beyond allocation of funds through the budget pronouncement adding that it should follow it up with actual disbursement.
“We should also go beyond budget allocation, and look at the amount that finally gets to be released from treasury if you look at previous trends, out of resources allocated in budget which the minister routinely announces every year, a significant amount of that allocation never reaches the ministry of health.
“I think we need to more in terms of that, it has worked elsewhere, it has worked in some other countries with smaller budgets they have made significant differences. So increase domestic fund, reduce over reliance on donors and external funding,” said Chiguvare.
A few weeks ago Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told Parliament that in the absence of fresh financial injection into the economy, there isn’t much he can do as some of the government expenditure is statutory in nature and cannot skip them to increase funding to certain sectors.
On the other hand, revenue collections are also problematic as Zimra has been failing to meet expect target on several occasions especially with the informalisation of the economy taking place where about 85 percent of SMEs are said to be unregistered and not paying tax directly.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) says it is facing challenges in raising about US$177 million to implement its National Family Planning Strategy 2016-2020, as they have to depend on foreign funding.