THE Health and Child Care ministry is saddled with a ZWL$60 billion debt amid delayed disbursements from Treasury for its daily operations, a situation which is threatening to derail service delivery.
Health ministry secretary, Aspect Maunganidze, revealed this before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care while submitting the ministry’s 2024 national budget bid.
“The ministry continues to provide services even under difficult circumstances where our patients have been failing to pay for health services, hence ever increasing debtors,” Maunganidze said.
“The ministry’s budget remains static and has left the ministry with a domestic debt of more than ZWL$60 billion to local critical and utility service providers. We are faced with a low supply of medicines in hospitals, and a high import bill as most health commodities are imported.”
Underfunding is often blamed for the collapse of the country’s social services with the health sector being the hardest hit. This has resulted in health workers, especially nurses and doctors, resigning en-masse in search of better paying jobs abroad.
Maunganidze also bemoaned the staff exodus.
“This also in the background of high staff attrition and ageing medical equipment base,” Maunganidze said.
“We also have challenges in research and development as the country is embarking on an education 5.0 model. It’s important that the ministry of Health speaks to this vision, there is need for quality improvement as a country and this can only be achievable with funding towards research and development since its a priority to realise long term success.”
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Education 5.0 focuses on five pillars which are research, teaching, community service, innovation and industrialisation.
Health ministry acting finance director, Lynnete Tennis, said timely funding was essential to provide efficient services.
“It is our hope that the Finance ministry will find additional resources to fund us to provide services. Allocated envelopes need to be relooked at and maybe re-prioritised so that we are able to provide services,” she said.
Last year, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube announced a ZWL$4,5 trillion budget with 11% going towards health. However, experts said budget allocation towards health care services was grossly inadequate.