ZIMBABWE has launched its first ever Health Financing Strategy, which when implemented will increase health sector domestic funding as well as improve access to quality health for all citizens.
By Michael Gwarisa
Zimbabwe’s health system has been consistently financed by a mixture of domestic funding resources with the major funding coming from Central Government through budget allocation, sub-national government (local authorities), households, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and private companies.
Launching the Health financing strategy, Health and Child Care minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said implementation of the health financing strategy was banked on availability of financial resources and government had to up its game in terms of mobilising resources both locally and internationally.
“As you are all aware, the Ministry also launched its National Health strategy (2015 – 2020) here at Murewa District hospital sometime in 2017. It is in this strategy that the Ministry set targets to be achieved by the health sector that aimed at providing comprehensive and quality health care to all Zimbabweans with the ultimate goal of having a healthy population with equitable access to quality services through a strengthened health system.
“However, we need to note that achievement of these key deliverables is heavily dependent on Health financing which is one of the six pillars of the Health Systems Strengthening and it enables all other activities to happen,” said Dr Parirenaytwa.
He added that the ministry had developed this first Health Financing Policy (HFP): “Resourcing Pathway to Universal Health Coverage”, 2016-2026, in a bid to address a myriad of challenges bedevilling the health system which include failure by the national budget to meet to the Abuja declaration target of allocating 15% of the Government’s budget towards health.
“Health insurance covers less than 10% of the population; an out of pocket expenditure of over 39% of all health expenditure leading to financial impoverishment for many Zimbabweans.
“The current per capita level of government funding at $25 is well below the Chatham House estimated $86 needed to provide an essential benefit package (in low and middle income countries). Old and emerging diseases continue to take a toll on current resources, the rise in the share of total external funding increases donor dependency risk, an increase in Out Of Pocket Payment over the years highlights the lack of financial protection and equity of access to healthcare services.”
He also said the strategy will ensure earmarking of non-government funds to specific diseases also reduces universality and equity since the proportion of the population that is covered by private health insurance schemes is very small hence the rest of the population is not able to benefit from the risk pooling function of health insurance.
“No prepayment arrangements for Non Communicable Diseases. This leaves patients to resort to user fees, which are high and costly. Lack of incentives to maintain high quality care which has often been cited as the source of poor quality care. Lack of funding support for the policy of removal of user fees at the point of service among others.”
Meanwhile, World Bank said Zimbabwe had to improve on its finance monitoring systems so as to curb corruption and fraud for development of the health sector.
“The gold of the health financing policy is to guide Zimbabwe’s health system to move towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC), by achieving financial risk protection, access to quality essential health care services, and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all by 2030.
“This policy is complemented by health financing strategy which aims to translate into actionable financing reforms and interventions. This strategy defines intervention that that promote efficiency and equity in health care resource mobilisation and use, including the promotion of high quality of care for everyone in Zimbabwe.”
The strategy presents deliberate and guided steps by the government of Zimbabwe towards ensuring affordable and equitable access to quality healthcare services to realise our goal of health for all as enshrined in the constitution.