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Poor fail to accesss health services

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THE plight of poor and vulnerable Zimbabweans may continue to deteriorate in 2015 after government failed to adequately fund social service ministry.

VENERANDA LANGA
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER

Secretary for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Ngoni Masoka, recently told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare that poor people on health assistance programmes risked being turned away as government owes over $3 million to different medical institutions since 2011.

The ministry had requested for $4,6 million to assist vulnerable groups with medical assistance, but only got an allocation of $970 000 under the 2015 national Budget.

“Vulnerable households in need of health assistance through the Assisted Medical Treatment Order (AMTO) may fail to access health services due to the cumulative effect of non-payment of hospital bills since 2013,” Masoka said.

“This has resulted in most government referral hospitals refusing to offer health services to AMTO bearers, and the plight of vulnerable households may continue to deteriorate without this support from government.

“In addition, vulnerable households may fail to access specialised health treatment outside government hospitals since the allocated resources are only adequate to pay part of the health bills for government institutions.”

According to the figures forwarded to the committee government health arrears were $519 448 in 2011, a total of $1 233 847, 32 in 2012, for 2013 they were $1 211 511, 16 and in 2014 government owed $339 224, 16.

Executive director for the Community Working Group on Health, Itai Rusike, in his post-budget analysis noted with great concern that despite pressure from a wide section of society, and from Parliament, the health budget was only 6, 3% of the National Budget.

He said the budgetary allocation fell far short of the Abuja target of 15%.

“The drug situation has remained a critically neglected area in the budget, with the health sector now overly dependent on donors for the financing of this critical component, and it is estimated that, excluding the National Aids Council support to ARVs, almost all drugs in our public health system are financed by donors,” Rusike said.

He said the State had an important role in achieving pro-poor growth by addressing issues of poverty and health through a deliberate and generous allocation of resources to the two sectors.

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