OVER 90 percent of Zimbabwean households were using United States dollars for healthcare services while about 9 percent used local ZWL$ currency last month, a Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (Zimstat) senior official said.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
This was arrived at by the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (Zimstat) following surveys during the month in question using the blended Consumer Price Index (CPI).
A majority of Zimbabweans mainly civil servants earn in the local ZWL$ currency only to be forced to convert the money into USD required in pharmacies, private doctors and other healthcare service providers to access health services.
For health, the expenditure in percentage terms for the United States dollars was 91.08 percent while that for the local ZWL currency was 8.92,” Zimstat Director General Mr Taguma Mahonde said in his Monthly Statistical update.
The blended CPI was 278.12 in January 2023, 276.1 in December 2022 and 138.02 in January 2022. The ZWL CPI was 13,819.67, 13,672.91 in December 2022 and 4,189.97 in January 2022.
He explained the reason behind using the blended CPI.
“When computing CPI, household consumption expenditure on goods and services is categorized according to the Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP). COICOP weights are used when computing CPI. Accordingly, ZIMSTAT conducted a household budget survey to determine the value of goods purchased in USD and ZWL per each COICOP category,” Mr Mahonde said.
That Zimbabweans are using more of the US dollars for healthcare services come at a time when last year Government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development was allocating US$20 per citizen towards healthcare provision, which is US$25 lower than the US$45 it spent on an individual in 2021.
This allocation or spending on a single person or single citizen is also known as per capita spending or per capita allocation.
Last year while presenting a paper, at a Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) workshop on National Stakeholder Engagement and Consesus on Revitalising Primary Health Care in Zimbabwe, Dr Prosper Chitambara noted Zimbabwe’s per capita spending on health was exceptionally inadequate.
According to calculations based on the Ministry of Finance figures, Dr Chitambara said Zimbabwe this year allocated US$20 from US$45 in 2021.
In the CWGH position paper, it was noted that 93 percent of Zimbabweans do not have medical insurance. “Currently only 7 percent of Zimbabweans have access to medical insurance and this number is insufficient to ensure decent public healthcare,” said CWGH.
Pharmaceutical industry constituted 2.5 percent of Zimbabwe’s major imports in December 2022. The Zimstat director general said the food poverty line (FPL) represents the amount of money that an individual will require to afford the required daily minimum energy intake of 2 100 calories.
“The Food Poverty Line (FPL) for one person in January 2023 was $22,385.00. For Poverty Lines, ZIMSTAT makes use of a consumer basket for the poor,” he said.
He also said the Total Consumption Poverty Line is derived by computing the non-food consumption expenditures of poor households whose consumption expenditures were just equal to the FPL.
“The amount was added to the FPL, if an individual does not consume more than the TCPL, he or she is deemed poor. The Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) for one person stood at $29,500.00 in January 2023,” Mr Mahonde said.
Mr Mahonde on the producer price index for agriculture in December last year said it gained 0.8 percentage points compared to the previous month’s 0.3 percent.
“The month-on-month rate of change for the Producer Price Index for Agriculture in December 2022 was 1.1 percent gaining 0.8 percentage points on the November 2022 rate of 0.3 percent.