PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says it’s high time his Government prioritises the healthcare sector.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
He said this on Monday while officiating a hand over of medical equipment at NatPharm head offices which was preceded by a tour of the facility.
“And as I went round when the specialists were explaining to me, honestly as a government we must give priority to the health sector because it is critically important that our people are healthy.
“And when you are not well we should have a health system that should assist our people. What we have not achieved which I think is necessary is when we go forward, we should make more and more liberal policies towards giving or allowing access to health,” he said.
The President said the elderly and young children should be given free healthcare.
“I think we should begin with children to have free access to health facilities. Those of my age and above should have free access to health. But the younger ones like yourselves, I think you still need to pay. But as resources continue to improve we can continuously lower the age from the top coming down and up the age from the bottom going up. So that more and more of our people should have access to medical care,” he said.
At a time when non communicable diseases such as cancers and kidney ailments are becoming a threat to public health, President Mnangagwa said patients must also have free access to treatment.
“But beyond that there are specific ailments in my view which we must give and allow our people to have access freely. Like in the area of cancer and dialysis, we should look into that area and see how much that would cost,” he said.
He also jokingly took a swipe at Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube for being thrifty.
“I have a Minister of Finance. It’s unfortunate he did both Mathematics and then Economics. So he is very good in economic theories and so on. But then uses mathematics to count his money. But I think we should be able to persuade him politically to loosen up so that we give more and more attention to this sector,” said the President.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said through the President’s Initiatives Government is trying its best correct the deterioration of healthcare standards
“We are gathered here to witness yet another milestone achievement in the healthcare industry. Whilst the past 20 years have seen in a deterioration in the standards of our health care in all our major hospitals coming in the form of non-availability of medicines, malfunctioning equipment and a demotivated workforce. Your Excellency, just a few months ago, most of our hospital pharmacies had empty shelves with our medical practitioners and patients facing challenges to offer and obtain a service, I am pleased to announce that the supply of medicines in our institutions has improved significantly,” he said. “ And we owe this to your tireless efforts in guiding us and also leading from the front in the reengagement efforts which are bringing the transformation which we are experiencing today.”
Dr Moyo said there has been an improvement in the availability of medicines in the hospitals.
“Today your excellency, we gather for you to handover equipment sourced through your initiative after you met a group of our doctors who expressed concern that they are unable to do their work due to limited availability of medicines and true to your word of being a listening President, Your Excellency, you supported our Ministry to accelerate the procurement of medicines and equipment by availing a fund which was used to purchases these pieces of equipment from India which you have seen during the tour. Your Excellency, I must emphasise that it is my privilege to have you here,” said the Health Minister.
Dr Faith Muchemwa representing the doctors thanked the President for the noble gesture.