By Staff Reporter
PARLIAMENTARY Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chairperson Dr Ruth Labode has challenged government to release current statistics for the Health Levy.
The call comes amidst revelations that Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) only received US$6 million from the Health Levy without further details of the collections.
Speaking at the Family Planning Symposium, Dr Labode said there is need for transparency and that mobile phone network companies need to also confirm the figures being mentioned by government.
“The US$ 6 million is it for six months and how much are you getting monthly and can the networks like Econet and others also confirm that this is the only money they actually sent out?
“We also need to know who is receiving that money, because we know for example the Aids Levy comes direct from Zimra to National Aids Council, how does that money (Health Levy) move because that US$6 million figure is too small,” she said.
Health Levy was introduced through the 2017 National Budget by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa to help improve the country’s health sector which is more of dependent on donor funding.
Zimbabwe currently depend on development partners for its response to such diseases as HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB, among other interventions in the health sector.
Health budget allocations have been hovering around 6 percent despite being a signatory to the Abuja Declaration where countries are compelled to allocate at least 15 percent of national budget to health sector.
Speaking at the same occasion, principal director preventive services in the MoHCC Dr Gibson Mhlanga confirmed that the ministry has received the Health Levy allocation but is not aware of the collection statistics.
“There was a question on airtime surcharge and so far what I have heard is that they have managed to collect US$6 million and as I speak we have called in colleagues from across the country that is the provincial medical directors and there is a meeting where they are discussing how we are going to utilise this money.
“We don’t want a situation where we get the money and immediately we divide it to all other institutions and at the end of the day we can’t be able to account for it or see anything positive coming out of it, so we want to have a concrete plan and see how that money can be allocated to ensure that the population can feel the impact of that money,” he said.
Dr Mhlanga added that the good thing is that the money is a tax and will continue coming for the seeable future.
Zimbabwe is also looking at implementing its new National Family Planning Strategy 2016-2020 which will need about US$177 million to fully implement it, and Health Levy is one of the areas earmarked to help fund some of the projects in the ambitious strategy.
Meanwhile, Dr Labode has also suggested that the mobile phone be summon to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee to give oral evidence on the amount of Health Levy collect so far.-