Call for health sector funding review

Call for health sector funding review

HEALTH and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa has called for treasury to increase funding of the health care system as shortages of resources are compromising service delivery and affecting the health care quality.

The statement comes at a time when Harare’s biggest referral hospital, Harare Central Hospital, is facing an acute drug shortage that has forced it to suspend elective surgeries.

“We need to be able to finance our health system. We cannot be judged as a nation that cannot put money into our health care system.

“Inadequate government funds have negatively affected health service delivery. A country is judged by how it looks after the health of its people,” said Minister Parirenyatwa.

Minister Parirenyatwa who has been touring the country’s health institutions to appreciate the challenges faced by the hospitals recently reiterated that the country’s hospitals were facing a myriad of challenges due to underfunding citing the shortage of drugs as the major challenge.

He said the country’s hospitals were facing shortage of drugs, health personnel, equipment and inadequate infrastructure following an assessment of the country’s major hospitals.

The Community Working Group on Health has also reiterated that the Government should consider increasing health funding in its 2017 budget.

The lobby group director, Itai Rusike called the Government to move beyond tokenism and increase its commitment to funding services that are currently being funded by donors.

“Government has continued to collaborate with its external partners for the funding and sustenance of selected programmes with external funding being channelled off-budget to reduce fiduciary risks.

“However, external funding has somehow become fungible and has in most cases replaced government funding instead of complementing it,” argued Rusike.

“We are also concerned with the high level of donor dependency on medicines and maternal health programmes. Medicines requirements and RMNCH programmes remain some of the most externally dependent programmes exposing them to arbitrary cuts and funding withdrawals.”

Rusike said this donor dependency and not prioritising health funding had plunged Harare central hospital into a crisis that has forced it to suspend elective surgeries due to an acute shortage of drugs which has seen the hospital even running out of basic pain killers.

As the hospital’s crisis worsens, chronically ill patients who get their monthly supplies from this hospital have not been spared.

The health sector has over the years relied on donor funding with over 90 percent of medicines coming from donors, a situation that has mostly affected the poor who mainly rely on these public health institutions.