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‘Promote domestic funding for health’

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BY  PHYLLIS MBANJE

HEALTH stakeholders have called on government to stop depending on external funding for the sector as it is not sustainable.

Programmes such as HIV and Aids, tuberculosis, malaria are wholly funded from outside with little local contribution.

“If donors pull the plug today, we will be seriously exposed,” Itai Rusike from the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) said, while addressing budget advocacy training for journalists.

Rusike said there was too much complacency on the issue of domestic funding, yet that was key in ensuring the health sector is revitalised.

Health funding has remained a sticky issue with stakeholders calling for at least 15% allocation to health from the national budget.

“Currently, the Global Fund is talking of transitioning, who knows where this will lead. We may wake up with no funding,” Rusike said.
Global Fund has been supporting Zimbabwe on HIV and Aids, TB and malaria programmes.

“We will not achieve universal health coverage if we continue on this trajectory of depending on external donors,” Rusike added.

Recently, CWGH made its pre-budget input to the 2021 budget proposal, urging the government to draw lessons from the COVID-19 response and reinforce preventive services and interventions.

“While we applaud sentiments from Health minister Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga that there was need to relook funding models, I am concerned that the budget will still not address the pressing health needs.”

Chiwenga has promised to reform and restructure the shambolic Health ministry which has been dogged by a myriad of challenges which include the perennial strike by health workers.

Public hospitals are also facing their fair share of troubles, among them limited drugs and obsolete equipment. The situation has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic which has further put a strain on the already collapsed healthcare delivery system.

While there have been notable achievements in the reduction of overall disease burden for the past two decades, natural disasters such as Cyclone Idai and droughts and health emergencies such typhoid and COVID-19 continue to plaque the country.

This year’s health budget fell short of the 15% Abuja Declaration target with per capita spending on healthcare below the World Health Organisation recommended threshold of US$86.

Follow Phyllis on Twitter @pmbanje

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