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Health committee calls for HSB disbanding

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The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health has intensified calls to disband the Health Services Board (HSB), accusing it of, among other issues, gross abuse of public resources and duplicating functions of the Civil Service Commission.

By Phyllis Mbanje

Presenting a post budget analysis recently, chairperson of the committee, Ruth Labode, said the over $2million allocated to HSB in the 2016 National Budget should instead be used to fund retrenchments for pensionable members of the board.

“The committee has noted with concern the alleged gross abuse of scarce public resources through car hiring ($54 000 per month) and renting buildings ($200 000 per month),” Labode said.

This is not the first time that the HSB has been put under pressure to disband.

Earlier this year, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) agitated for the board to be disbanded, saying such a move would improve the health delivery service in the country.

“The board has become a huge national liability, whose legitimacy, or rather, relevance has been discredited, not only by all right-thinking adult Zimbabweans, but also even our toddlers and kids at preschools in Zimbabwe,” ZHDA chairperson Fortune Nyamande said.

Parliament-of-Zimbabwe-building

Last year, midwives from central hospitals engaged in protest over the failure by the HSB to disburse their allowances from the Health Transition Fund.

“The committee recommends that the $2 136 000 allocated in the 2016 National Budget be used to fund retrenchments for pensionable members of the board, while other professionals can be absorbed by the Public Service Commission,” Labode said.

Meanwhile, commenting on the 7,46% budget allocation for the health sector, the committee said this fell short of the minimum threshold of 15% stipulated in the Abuja Declaration.

Adequate financial resources will ensure successful intervention to reducing the burden of diseases like HIV, TB, malaria and non-communicable diseases.

“Overreliance on donor support for the health sector is not sustainable since donors may withdraw without notice,” Labode said.
As part of recommendations, the committee said there was need to increase per capita health spending from the current $25,45 to the recommended per capita spending of $80.

“Budget allocations to the health sector should be aligned to the bid submissions by the Health ministry because the wide variances between bids and allocations impact negatively on the ministry’s ability to fulfill its mandate,” some of the endorsements read.

The government was also tasked to come up with a plan of clearing the Health ministry’s arrears to creditors for continued supply of health services/equipment.

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