Health Sector Gets ZWL54.7 Billion In 2021 Budget

TREASURY has allocated an amount to the tune of ZWL54.7 Billion which is about 13% of the 2021 national budget to the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC).

By Michael Gwarisa

Presenting the 2021 National budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube said despite the challenging economic environment, the government has over the last two years been providing significant resources to revive the health system in areas such as reproductive, maternal, new-born and adolescent health and nutrition services.

The health crisis provides useful lessons for longer-term reforms required to build greater resilience in our health systems against any future shocks. In this regard, the NDS1 provides a commitment to revamp the public health infrastructure, covering upgrading and construction of health facilities, installation of medical equipment, procurement of ambulances and utility vehicles.

“Building on the country’s resilience to deal with health crises through stringent Public Health and Social Measures (PHSM) as noted by a survey carried in August 2020, the 2021 National Budget will endeavour to increase the allocation to the health sector so that it gravitates towards the Abuja target of 15% of National Budget to ensure the country achieves the desired health outcomes. In this regard, ZWL$54.7 billion has been allocated to the Ministry of Health and Child Care,” said Prof Ncube.

He added that the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the challenges in the healthcare system and infrastructure, from shortages of testing and medical supplies to access of health services for underserved populations.

“Infrastructure gaps still exist in service delivery and availability, as well as readiness of health facilities to provide basic health-care interventions in the country. Further to the above allocations, institutional reforms which include restructuring the Ministry of Health and Child Care will be essential, focussing on production, research and service quality. Overall Development Partner support in the health sector amounted to US$351.7 million for the period January to September 2020, whilst the projected disbursements for the sector in 2021 amount to US$495.9 million.

“The resources include support from the Global Fund which was channelled towards complementing Government efforts in fighting HIV/ AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria. To this end, Government welcomes the extension of the Global Fund support into another funding cycle (2021–2023) with total resources amounting to US$523 million.”

However, commenting on the 2021 budget, Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) Executive Director, Mr Itai Rusike said the 2021 budget allocation to the health sector was still below the level required for the delivery of quality health services even though health has maintained its ranking in the top five ministries in allocation of government funding.

“The Ministry of Health and Child Care got 54.7 Billion RTGS which is about 13%. But has the allocation increased in real terms if compared to other years? While government has shown signs of prioritizing health, the overall level of public spending is still low relative to need.

“Health thus needs to continue to be prioritized and the share of gross domestic product needs to be maintained. Despite strong expression of the social priority placed on adequate standards of health and health care. We note that the budget allocation for health did not increase in real terms, (although it may have shown  a nominal increase) and did not even begin to match that priority placed on health by a wide spectrum of society,” said Mr Rusike.

He added that government should make health delivery a top priority if it is to save its health institutions from imminent collapse.

“The state of health services near collapse is directly related to government misplacing its priorities in not allocating adequate resources to the health sector. The 2021 budget allocation to the health sector is not adequate in the face of Covid-19 pandemic, rising disease and mortality levels, particularly those allocations to preventive diseases.

“The massive increase in essential drug costs, drop in drug purchase by low income people and fall in use of essential health care services due to cost barriers. We hope that the Ministry of Health and Child Care will use the allocated funds as efficiently and effectively as possible in order to maintain good health standards in the face of collapsing health services.”

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