Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
the Health sector is being allocated $6,5 billion next year allowing significant improvement in the health delivery system and sustaining gains already made in the sector.
Presenting the 2020 National Budget in Harare yesterday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said Government was aware of challenges facing the sector, including shortage of medicines, consumables and essential medical equipment, along with overcrowding, poor diets, inadequate infrastructure and an ongoing industrial action by doctors.
He said the country’s health burden has also greatly increased with non-communicable diseases, like cancer and diabetes on the rise, coupled with most hospitals and clinics having to cope with more people.
“To consolidate our achievements in health care, I am allocating $6,5 billion to the sector. This will cater for health infrastructure, personnel welfare, medicines, drugs, and sundries, among other essential hospital equipment and necessities,” said Prof Ncube.
He said in 2020, Government will also prioritise building health infrastructure, including renovating both urban and rural health facilities by leveraging on public-private partnerships.
Priority will be given to recruit more doctors and nurses.
He said Government will also ensure that the National Budget prioritises procurement of vaccines and kits for immunisation.
Additional health care will be given to households where it is difficult to earn more money.
These would be the homes of persons with disabilities, the chronically ill, the elderly and child headed households. They will receive assisted health care under the Assisted Medical Treatment Orders (AMTO) facility and cash transfers among other social protection benefits.
“The Abuja Target remains an elusive target for the country as Government expenditure on health is still less than 15 percent, (Abuja target) over the period 2012-2019,” said Prof Ncube.
He said Government has, however, made significant strides in some areas such as reducing the number of under-five deaths, improvement in immunisation coverage and prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV and other diseases (PMTCT).
The country’s under-five mortality rate has fallen from 98 per 1000 live births in 2008 to 56 in 2016.
Immunisation coverage with both DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus) and measles reached 90 and 95 percent, respectively, while HIV incidence fell from 1 to 0,48 percent.
The rate of PMTCT has also fallen from 30 percent to 5,7 percent.