LEGISLATORS have demanded the immediate disbursement of the 5% health levy collected from airtime users after it emerged that the $18 million collected so far was sitting idle in government coffers at a time other programmes such as family planning were heavily underfunded.
by VENERANDA LANGA
This came out during a recent workshop jointly organised by the Population Services Zimbabwe (PSZ) and Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) to sensitive legislators on family planning issues.
The MPs heard that since 2013, family planning and reproductive health programmes received a measly $200 000 each year from government, leaving donors to fund most of the programmes.
Edward Zvidzayi Mutyambizi, chief accountant in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, angered the MPs when he disclosed that the $18 million collected as health levy was sitting idle in government coffers.
“The collection of the 5% levy from each dollar of airtime has in some way resulted in everyone contributing to the national health insurance,” Mutyambizi said.
“However, we have not yet started utilising the money, but it has collected about $18 million and a committee has been set up to ensure these funds are accounted for.”
The chairperson of the Parliamentary Health Portfolio Committee, Ruth Labode, raised concern that the money could be diverted to other non-health issues.
“This thing is dangerous and we need to know where it is going because we are hearing different versions of amounts collected so far. We were told $4 million is collected per month, and another person from the Ministry of Health said $8 million. Why have you not used the money yet health services need funding?” she asked.
Mutyambizi said the ministry had resolved to use the money for the procurement of blood coupons.
Biata Nyamupinga (Goromonzi West MP) expressed concern over a measly allocation of $40 000 for reproductive health when hospital chief executive officers were buying expensive vehicles.
MPs recommended that hospital boards must be abolished as they were unnecessary and proposed that family planning services should be allocated 3% of the total health budget for next year.