Reports that the collapse of the health services sector is a result of lack of political will to effectively address serious deficiencies that have left millions of people exposed to killer diseases are a cause for concern and should be dealt with forthwith.
While the disclosures cited Zimbabwe’s heavy dependency on donor funding to support the health sector as a ticking time bomb, it is important for government to use available financial resources to develop the sector as a way of cushioning the majority poor.
It is the poor who always do not have the means to get treatment elsewhere like the politicians, hence the need for government to take a keen interest in reviving the health services sector. The obtaining situation signals what is happening across all sectors of the economy.
The fact that existing clinics and hospitals are failing to provide quality service is a violation of the provisions of the new Constitution that guarantees the right to health.
Unfortunately, those provisions are only on paper and yet to be enjoyed by the majority of the population that depends on public health delivery.
With almost 80% of the population relying on agriculture, the economic spiral has left the majority exposed to killer diseases while their children have dropped out of school for lack of money to pay school fees.
It is true that it’s a huge a challenge for both government and local authorities to build hospitals in the current economic environment when most of the hospitals and clinics are in a dilapidated state with obsolete equipment in urgent need of replacement, but with little resources the public health system could function again.
What is revealing is that on Monday, government dampened hopes of a quick fix to the faltering economy through its five-year economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable
Socio-Economic Transformation, warning it could take a lifetime to achieve the programme’s objectives.
A liquidity crisis that has held the economy back since dollarisation in 2009 shows no signs of easing with cash-squeezed companies forced to shut down, throwing hundreds onto the already huge jobless heap. This, coupled with lack of political will, is the reason why the country’s leadership always travels outside for treatment including a simple check-up yet they are failing to develop a vibrant public health system.
Recently another NGO accused public hospitals of allowing imported drugs to expire on their shelves when many patients were failing to access medication due to prohibitive costs.
Government is urged to swiftly come up with systems to ensure that all parts of Zimbabwe are adequately covered in terms of availability of drugs instead of having a higher concentration of drugs at certain hospitals while others do not have anything in their stocks. Last week, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care heard that a number of drugs at Ingutsheni Mental Hospital in Bulawayo had been incinerated after they expired.
One wonders whether Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa and deputy Paul Chimedza’s priorities must be reset or they have failed to turn around the health services sector.
Most of the major health services projects have remained on the drawing board years after the ideas were mooted. One wonders what is stalling the turnaround of the health services sector.
Parirenyatwa must wake up and revive the public health system.