$8,5bn health plan unveiled

Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Government has unveiled an $8,5 billion action plan expected to improve service delivery in all health institutions, provide an enabling environment for the health sector and strengthen priority health programmes over the next five years.

Presenting the plan at its official launch in Murehwa on Wednesday last week, provincial medical director for Matabeleland North province Dr Nyasha Masuka said Zimbabwe required at least $6,6 billion to maintain the same level of health care over the next five years, but would require about $8,3 billion to be able to scale-up most interventions. Dr Masuka said for 2017, the country required about $1,1 billion to maintain the same level of health care, but would also need at least $1,5 billion to scale up existing interventions.

“The vision of the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Care is to have the highest possible level of health quality of life for all its citizens. This national health strategy for 2016 to 2020 sets out the strategic direction for the health sector over the next five years in order to attain this vision,” said Dr Masuka.

He said some of the key result areas expected from the plan were the reduction of communicable diseases like HIV, malaria and Tuberculosis; reduction of non-communicable diseases such as cancers and, improvement of maternal, newborn and child health. By improving service delivery in health institutions, Dr Masuka said Government looked forward to strengthening the primary health care approach and ensuring universal access to health.

Dr Masuka said Government looked forward to improving issues of human resources, financing for health and research and development among others.

Although Government was looking forward to raise up to $8 billion over the next five years to successfully implement its plan, the Ministry of Health and Child Care received a vote of about $500 million at each budget allocation.

In 2015, Government and local authorities provided about $426 million for the health sector, while donors and other external funders provided about $511 million.

Asked how his Ministry intended to fill the financial gap between what was coming from Treasury and what its partners were providing, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said they will continue to lobby for more allocations for the health sector as well as increasing domestic funding for health.

“If this is what we need, we are going to be asking Treasury that this is our requirement and it is not just Treasury, we are quite certain in our minds that our partners will assist, but we are not going to be dependent on partners.

“So, we hope that Government is going to put in more resources so that our partners would have somewhere to start from,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.

He said he was hopeful that the plan would address all current challenges such as staff and drug shortages as well as the issue of infrastructure.

Dr Parirenyatwa said his Ministry hoped that the 5 percent air time levy will go a long way in addressing some of the funding challenges experienced in the health sector.

He called on all health partners to align their response efforts with the national action plan for effective health programming.

World Health Organisation country representative Dr David Okello, whose organisation also unveiled its action plan aligned to the country’s action plan, said WHO will continue playing its advisory and technical assistance to the country.

“The WHO’s country cooperation strategy document, which is being launched concurrently with the national strategy is WHO and Zimbabwe’s own internal effort to identify areas in the national plan where WHO’s inputs could make a difference based on our comparative advantage,” said Dr Okello.

UN resident coordinator Mr Bishow Parajuli said Zimbabwe’s strategy builds on the gains achieved in the health sector over the last five years.

Mr Parajuli said the UN family remained committed to coordinating and harmonising its support to the Government of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s health delivery system is currently faced with a myriad of challenges ranging from drug stock-outs to human resource shortages.

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