By Kudakwashe Pembere
The Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Health says it will not entertain a flimsy allocation of funds to the health sector in the forthcoming 2018 budget presentation unless the 15% Abuja target is met.
This was said by Matabeleland North senator Sibusisiwe Budha-Masara at the Pre-budget review workshop organized by the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) held on Wednesday in Harare.
“I think as a country, this is something that I would want Zimbabweans to consider even though there is little time for you to put your input into this budget. But I think this is the opportunity for us to say whatever we feel the budget must look like because a healthy nation in terms of economic development we need healthy manpower and it is our right that we must receive quality health as citizens of this country,” she said.
She added that health must be prioritized in this year’s budget allocation.
“I think we need to lobby and talk to relevant organisations who can assist us that this budget this time around must pay priority to health,” said the Senator.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Abuja Declaration of 2001 in which African Union countries pledged to allocate at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to improving the health sector. Since then, the country is yet to meet the target. In the 2017 budget, the health sector only got 7 percent.
She declared that should the budget miss the Abuja declaration on allocating 15 percent of the National Budget, it risks not seeing the light of day.
“If it does not meet the 15 percent Abuja Declaration, I think we have got all the power to deny it that it cannot be passed as long as health in Zimbabwe is not a priority,” she said.
Binga North MP Prince Dubeko Sibanda sharing his experience in Uganda learnt that if a budget ignores the plight of the marginalized it doesn’t get Parliamentary approval to be passed.
“One thing I took in Uganda, they have got a law which says unless the budget meets certain criteria or takes care of people that are generally marginalized that budget should not be passed. Its part and parcel of their law. Its never passed,” the parliamentarian said.
With just three weeks before the 2018 Budget is announced by the new Finance and Economic development minister Dr Ignatious Chombo, the parliamentary portfolio committee, NGOs expect the treasury to meet the Abuja declaration which states that 15 percent of the National budget should be dedicated to Health to show commitment of ensuring a healthy and productive nation.
Presenting the 2017 national budget year, the then Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced that $281,9 million will be channeled towards the sector inclusive of remuneration for the public health care personnel ($223 million), operations and maintenance ($29,6 million), as well as capital expenditure that has been pegged at $29,5 million.