Health ministry bemoans poor budget

HARARE – The health sector’s $520 million 2018 budget allocation remains too low, despite Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa having increased it from $454 million, Health minister David Parirenyatwa said.
He said there was a lot of damage, wear and tear at the hospitals that needs to be fixed.
“Our target was $1,1 billion, it’s still not sufficient if you look at the number of repairs that are needed in our hospitals, just as an example.
“Before I touch medicines, if you look at how many laundry machines countrywide have broken down, the X-Ray machines that need to be replaced, the laboratory equipment that need to be addressed. Parirenyatwa said.
“We cannot replace all the laundry machines in all the hospitals in one year; we need to phase it and all that needs a big budget, so that budget to me is insufficient.”
Zimbabwe’s hospitals have been crippled by lack of medicines and equipment, which has in the past resulted in the suspension of some surgical operations at some major hospitals.
In trying to solve the situation, government introduced a health tax on airtime to boost revenue collection for drugs and equipment procurement, which according to Parirenyatwa has so far fetched $22 million.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said the revised budget allocations were not adequate to meet a lot of challenges and that it still fell below “the Abuja Target of 15 percent of national budget that should be allocated to the health ministry.
“Access to allocated funds has also remained an issue in previous years as a result of limited flows of funds into the fiscus and other issues to do with absorption of funds.
“However, the need to prioritise the health sector when funds are disbursed from the fiscus has to be emphasised with the ministry of Finance,” he said.
“Civil society organisations have advocated for a pro-poor budget and a budget that promotes the principles of primary health care while moving towards the realisation of universal health coverage. We have also advocated for budget policies that reflects the country’s commitments to the international laws, norms and commitments such as the Right to Health, the Abuja Target and the Sustainable Development Goals.”