HEALTH lobbyists have called on treasury to prioritize the health care sector the same way they bail out the fuel situation.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
This call comes at a time when the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe quickly moved in with a US$50 million facility to calm the fuel crisis when a health tempest rages on.
With pharmaceutical wholesalers in Zimbabwe currently requiring US$37, 8 million to settle arrears with foreign suppliers and manufacturers, the whole health sector according to Health and Child Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo needs US$400 000.
Little or no devotion to improve the health situation in Zimbabwe has been shown by the Treasury as juxtaposed to the fuel sector. Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) Executive Director Mr Itai Rusike told HealthTimes that to achieve Universal Health Coverage there was need to dedicate resources to health sector. The Health sector only received close to 10 percent of the National Budget falling five percent short of the Abuja Declaration stipulating 15 percent.
“The government of Zimbabwe should prioritise the health sector in the same way they are hastily mobilizing resources to ease the fuel crisis as the current funding levels for the public health sector are insufficient to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030,” he said. “The government need to increase domestic investment and allocate more public financing for health through equitable and mandatory resources such as a compulsory National Health Insurance Scheme. The government must improve efficiency and equity in the use of existing resources and reduce reliance on impoverishing out-of-pocket payments.”
He said development assistance to health should reduce fragmentation and strengthen national health financing capacities.
“Health is the foundation for people, communities and economies to reach their full potential. Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is primarily the responsibility of the government, which ensures people’s health as a social contract. Achieving UHC is essential for inclusive development, prosperity and fairness, and requires political decisions that go beyond the health sector. Health is enshrined as one of the fundamental rights of every human being. UHC is key to reducing poverty and promoting equity and social cohesion. The government of Zimbabwe should invest in everyone’s health,” said Mr Rusike.
Pharmaceutical Wholesalers in Zimbabwe currently owe about US$37, 8 million.
“We need US$4 million weekly to clear arrears. The RBZ is still mum on our plea to be allocated forex to clear these outstanding payments. They probably do not have the money,” said Pharmaceutical Wholesalers Association president Mr Kuda Chapfika.
As of February 2019, Pharmaceutical Society Of Zimbabwe said the last allocation to the industry was in October last year.
Another health advocate who requested anonymity noted that it was disheartening to see the Treasury in jitters over the fuel situation to quickly move when hospitals and clinics owned by the government do not have medicines.
“It’s saddening to see that the Treasury was unmoved by the First Lady who decried that NatPharm is overloaded with expired medicines at a time when district clinics have none. Further, the way they leave the hospitals deteriorate further due to lack of sufficient funding is less than desirous. If only they could react as swiftly as they do when there is a fuel crisis. The treasury should support NatPharm by approving the incineration of these medicines and secondly giving them the forex they require to purchase medicines,” said the advocate.
The advocate also said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe which is mum on addressing the money owed to manufacturers overseas who have changed their conditions. Local wholesalers are failing to procure medicines because they are told they have to settle previous balances first.
“From shortages of medicines across the country’s hospitals and clinics which sees far-fetched prices in pharmacies to teary emotional doctors crying for sundries to help patients, it shows that the ignorance of the health sector on the Treasury’s side should be stopped,” added the advocate.