Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Health Reporter
THE Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) has called on the Government to consider investing more in health in the 2021 budget which help in decreasing the disease burden.
CWGH comprises 40 national and regional community-based organisations working towards fostering community participation in health and has bemoaned the fact that Zimbabwe’s health budget has never reached the 15 percent target stipulated by the Abuja Declaration.
In April 2001, the African Union countries including Zimbabwe met and pledged to set a target of allocating at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to improve the health sector.
In its 2021 pre-budget input for the health sector, CWGH said Covid-19 was a wakeup call for the Government to continue prioritising and strengthening preventive services and interventions.
“Given the country’s commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, the 2021 budget needs to allocate resources to improve supply and availability of services, and at the same time enhance demand and uptake in poorer and more disadvantaged communities.
“The commitment made at Abuja to allocate 15 percent of government budget to health should be honoured,” said CWGH director Mr Itai Rusike.
He said increasing allocation to at 15 percent will ensure US$34 per person cost of the basic health package is guaranteed including the core malaria, TB and HIV interventions.
“The 2021 budget should reflect the change in the disease burden and allocate more resources towards non-communicable diseases, which historically have accounted for less than 10 percent of the budget.
“In order to address social inequalities, the internationally agreed threshold allocation to the Ministry of Agriculture should be at least 10 percent of the national budget, while that of education and health should be at least 20 percent and 15 percent of the national budget respectively.”
He said Zimbabwe has one of the highest levels of inequality in the region that has affected access to health care hence the need for more investment.
“According to the Prices Income and Expenditure Survey (PICES) report, the poorest households are likely not to seek care at all because of affordability,” he said.
“The trend shows that most of the poorest and low-income class citizens are likely not to seek care because of affordability meaning that the share of people not seeking has increased and is no longer confined to the poorest people only.”
Mr Rusike added that there are gaps in the resources and support for prevention and promotion activities by village health workers and clinics which leave communities susceptible to many curable diseases.
“The current policy of free health care for primary care level services should be rigorously enforced. This also calls for a health system able to prevent, promote health and manage ill health, particularly for those with least personal income.
“The budget should also ensure that members of the public have improved access to safe water, sanitation and waste as that will lead to a decrease in diseases,” said Mr Rusike. — @thamamoe