Health sector should get largest chunk of 2023 budget


HEALTH experts want Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube to allocate the biggest chunk of the 2023 budget to the health sector as it is affected by lack of equipment and drugs, among other problems.

Ncube is expected to announce the 2023 national budget at the end of this month.

Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association (MDPPZA) president Johannes Marisa told NewsDay: "The health sector deserves the biggest chunk from the national fiscus commensurate with the Abuja declaration of a minimum of 15% of the national budget.  The sector has been crippled as it has lost health staff and lacks equipment.  We are losing thousands of our experienced health workers to other countries. Last year alone we lost at least 2100 health workers. The health workforce should receive serious attention if the country is going to move in the right direction. The country needs to retain the critical health workers and provide better incentives, remuneration and better working conditions.”

Marisa said most medical equipment in the country is obsolete, while hospitals have no ambulances, scans and other medical equipment.

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director Itayi Rusike said government must implement the Health Financial Policy to raise domestic funding in order to achieve universal health coverage (UHC).

"Domestic tax systems that are essential to support a country's fiscal space expansion are central to the UHC agenda.  There is a need for the 2023 budget to prioritise primary health care to achieve UHC. A strong, well-funded and accessible primary health care system keeps people healthier and out of hospital by supporting them to manage their health issues. This reduces Zimbabwe’s reliance on costly acute care such as specialists, emergency departments or other hospital services," he said.

Rusike said appropriate incentives must be provided to health workers, whilst there is also a need to ensure equitable rural and urban health distribution.

“Currently, 7% of Zimbabweans have access to medical insurance and this number is insufficient to ensure decent public health care. National Health Insurance can be publicly funded through a combination of sin taxes as well as sugar taxes to ensure primary health care is accessible to every Zimbabwean,” he said.

The World Health Organisation has been advocating for sugar taxes on sugar sweetened beverages to fight the scourge of non-communicable diseases.

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