THE ministry of health has so far received less than one percent of the $300 million allocated to the sector in the 2016 national budget, a ministry official has revealed.
Tonderai Kadzere, a strategy and policy development officer in the health ministry, said the underfunding has left poverty-stricken citizens, who constitute the majority, more impoverished as they pay for services when they fall ill.
“Government funding in 2009 was at 12 percent and now it’s down to 7, 4 percent against the Abuja Declaration target of 15 percent,” said Kadzere at a meeting convened by a local NGO, Pangea in Harare this Thursday.
“In monetary terms it means this year we were allocated $300 million, so from that I don’t think we have even received $200,000 and we are already in September and that has been the trend.
“So who is financing health?”
He added: “Less than 10 percent of the population are the rich and those on any form of health insurance just about 1, 2 million.
“Individuals are contributing 39 percent in out-of-pocket expenditure on health. It means they are getting poor catering for health so we are in an undesirable situation.”
Kadzere said the ministry is looking at innovative ways of mobilising more domestic funds to guarantee Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as enshrined in the Constitution.
UHC refers to a situation where every citizen should be able to access health services without being impoverished.
“Many Zimbabweans are, however, failing to access services due to financial challenges.
“I always tell people that there is a medical hole, it’s a big bottomless hole,” said Kadzere.
“You get in there, there are two outcomes, either dead or poor, and in Zimbabwe the cost of getting ill is very high compared to other countries.”
Kadzere said while donors were helping mitigate funding challenges for the ministry, 80 percent of their contributions are strictly for HIV, malaria and TB–a situation which also compromises access to health services by patients with tropical and non-communicable diseases.
“These neglected diseases are really neglected,” he said while also reiterating health minister David Parirenyatwa’s sentiments that relying on donor funds was a security risk.
“Even for the diseases that are covered, when donors go these programmes are going to suffer.”
Opposition political parties are on record criticising the government for misplaced priorities. They have proposed that Presidential trips abroad be cut down to create fiscal space for health and other social services.