Mukudzei Chingwere Herald Reporter
The Health and Child Care Ministry is being restructured with a new sustainable funding model, far greater effectiveness, and a new work ethic for staff under plans outlined yesterday by the Minister, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.
In streamlining and expanding the operations of the ministry, but without adding to numbers with the upgrade coming from better use of staff, the remuneration of health workers has been put at the core of this shake-up.
The reorganisation also seeks to transform the work ethic of health professionals, which will be aligned to the oath of their profession.
VP Chiwenga said he was given a clear brief when he assumed the health portfolio.
“Zimbabwe’s vision is to have a national healthcare system that reflects international best practices by 2030. The desire is to have a national health system that ensures that all members of the corporation have equitable access to healthcare services of sufficient quality, thereby leaving no one behind,” he started.
“His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, ordered the restructuring of the Ministry of Health and Child Care, for it to reflect international best practices. Today it is with great pleasure that I announce that the first phase of the restructuring that I was tasked to undertake by the President is now complete.
“The main objective of the restructuring was to achieve efficiency, effectiveness, integrity, as well as integration of the Ministry of Health and Child Care with national institutions by removing insulating tendencies, limited or no coordination with national institutions. The specific objectives were to develop a new structure of the Ministry of Health and Child Care meant to achieve the above and to develop a funding model for the new structure as well as address conditions of service of health professionals,” said VP Chiwenga.
The restructuring of the health portfolio is following three stages. The first stage was to add a new top layer to the national health delivery system; the second stage was to develop an organised strategic department; and the third and final stage was to develop and adopt a sustainable funding model for the national healthcare system and develop conditions of services for the health staff to drive the new Ministry of Health and Child Care structure.
The Zimbabwe national health care system traditionally had four levels: primary health centres, district and mission hospitals, provincial hospitals; and central or teaching hospitals.
“We have now added the fifth level or the quaternary hospital which is a high level research and development hospital.”
“The five levels are designed to result in an efficient and effective national healthcare system that produces and depends on high-level science in executing the health services.
“The newly structured Ministry of Health will now be composed of nine divisions that are headed by chief directors including the eight specialised departments. However, it must be noted that the total establishment of the Ministry of Health and Child Care has not been changed,” said VP Chiwenga.
The nine divisions will cover: research biomedical engineering, biomedical science, biopharmaceutical engineering and production, general health services inspectorate, logistics and assets management, personnel and external relations, human resource management, health professional council and regulations, finance and corporate services, public health policies corporate and strategy, curative services.
A new funding model was critical.
“In order to fund the Ministry of Health and Child Care structure, it is important to understand the current situation. Currently Zimbabwe has a medical import bill that is high. It is thus imperative that Zimbabwe develop a method of containing the import bill through healthcare-related innovations or import substitutions.
“This entails reverting the import bill burden to export receipt. This will improve the funding. This system is the one Zimbabwe adopted in the fight against Covid-19 with much success,” said VP Chiwenga.
VP Chiwenga said the change represents a complete change of philosophy which will end the incessant problems that have dogged the national healthcare system for years.
He said “it is our conviction that most of the problems if not all were a product of wrong configuration”.
The new structure will offer things such as medical tourism as well as produce savings by plugging leaks.
The welfare of healthcare workers is at the core of the changes. “Housing and vehicle loans will also form part of the improved conditions of service. We have now reviewed salaries and allowances for healthcare professionals as a way of Government commitment to make the national healthcare system competitive.
“An overall increase for the health sector specific allowance will be effected by the Government.
“As we move forward and face the future with courage the expectations of the Government of Zimbabwe is that the work ethics and work culture within the ministry of Health and Child Care undergo stiff transformation. We expect all grievances to be resolved amicably through discussion without endangering patients’ lives,” said VP Chiwenga.
Speaking at the same media briefing, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said there would be backing for the financial implications of the restructuring.
“As Government, we are working with pharmaceutical companies to try and raise funding for their recapitalisation. We intend to approach development banks resident outside Zimbabwe to raise this funding.
“Our intention will be to improve the conditions of service for the health sector, as well as the entire civil service focusing on the core salary as well as specific allowances. As we do this we need to ensure that we stay within our budgetary parameters,” said Minister Ncube.