HEALTH experts have called on government to set up a disaster fund which covers all disasters including road traffic accidents.
By Kuda Pembere
This call comes at a time when government is still mooting a Road Disaster Fund.
PSMI Hospitals Division Director Dr Margaret Maulana proposed that the road disaster fund is not enough hence the need for a cross cutting fund looking after all disasters.
I am happy that you said there is going to be a fund. It should not be just a fund for road traffic accidents but for disaster. Because to say we are going to have a fund for trauma linked to motor vehicle accidents and leave other disasters, it’s a negation for our responsibilities,” she said.
Her appeal comes at a time when the country is still reeling from the effects of Cyclone Idai which left hundreds dead and thousands homeless.
“Well disasters are not only a result of Road Traffic Accidents. They can be caused by various issues like floods, Cyclone, earthquakes, drought, strife etc.
“So limiting the funds or fund to roads will exclude other causes which from our experience, have significantly caused untold suffering and the lack of funding, exposing the affected communities due to inadequate resources,” Dr Maulana said.
Dr Maulana’s remarks came after Health Ministry Non Communicable Diseases deputy director Dr Justice Mudavanhu mentioned that plans are afoot for the formation of a Road disaster fund.
“I will give you an example, at the moment, we are trying to develop a road traffic accident fund. Mr Vera said he has sat in about 10 high level meetings where people talk about this fund. This spans many years where people say what can we do what can we do but nothing materializes.
“When it comes to road traffic emergencies, it needs a multi sectoral approach. Its not just ministry of health alone. The roads that we travel on are owned by the ministry of transport. Meetings as these need the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Zimbabwe National Road Administration, the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe to be brought on board,” he said.
Dr Wilfred Muteweye who presented a topic dubbed ‘Disaster management and mass casualty situation in Zimbabwe concurred with Dr Maulana that the country should always be prepared for disasters.
Dr Muteweye also found it insensible for the CPU to be under Local government. He said in other jurisdictions CPU is under the Health or Defense Ministries.
“It is difficult to understand why the Civil Protection Unit is under the ministry of local government. Because as we know all the disasters end up impacting people’s health. Ideally it should be under the ministry of health.
“In many countries, any department which deals with emergencies is under the ministry of health. In few countries it is under the Ministry of Defense but as for our situation I am not sure why because the ministry of local government has many things under its umbrella. And for it to get funding properly it is going to be very difficult,” he said. “And also like you are saying they are kind of divorced with the man on the ground in the medical field.”
He also revealed that CPU contact telephone numbers on emergencies were dysfunctional.
“If you go onto their website, you will find out they have links with people all over. But if you go to their offices they hardly have those links on paper. And they don’t even do calls. You know their offices open at 8 am until 4 pm but emergencies can occur at anytime.
“And I have looked at their website, their emergency numbers I have tried calling them but they don’t work. So I don’t know but it will need other higher powers to try and rectify this,” he said.
Dr Muteweye also said that it was important for the country’s hospitals to have basic training on emergency and disaster management.
This was after Dr Stanford Chigumira noted the disharmony between disaster management and the Civil Protection Unit (CPU).
“I feel there is a disconnect between the hospital and the national organisation that deals with disasters, the civil protection unit housed within the ministry of local government which is good because it is multi-disciplinary, have you thought about making inroads with the civil protection unit. And how far have you gone with that,” Dr Chigumira said.
Professor Midion Chidzonga stated that the lack of clarity is caused by the absence of a
“On the issue of the disconnect between the Civil Protection Unit and other agencies that deliver emergency services is just that we haven’t developed emergency services in Zimbabwe,” he said.