By Pretty Chavango.
‘Aluta continua’ best describes the health situation in the country, especially with the recently presented 2018 national budget which failed to commit 15% of the nation’s revenue towards health as required by the Abuja Declaration of 2001.
The proposed budget by Minister Patrick Chinamasa if passed will once again add another year of chronic betrayal of the Abuja Declaration by Zimbabwe when it comes to health, and even if any amendments are made to the budget through Parliament, health allocation is less likely to meet the 15% target.
In 2001 african countries met and agreed in Nigeria to commit at least 15% of their national budgets to health sector in what became known as the Abuja Declaratio.
The idea behind the declaration was to reduce the unsustainable donor dependency by African countries in the health sector and to scale up domestic resources mobilisation for self funding, however Zimbabwe has not even fulfilled the promise even once.
Although funding to the health sector will increase to $408 million in 2018 compared to $281 million in 2017, to meet the Abuja Declaration, Minister Chinamasa has to change the sector’s allocation to about $765 million.
With the current health sector requirements, the proposed 45% ($408m) increase in budget allocation is a drop in the ocean and even if government was to meet the required 15% it will still not be sufficient to repair the numerous challenges facing the critical sector.
According to Health and Childcare minister David Parirenyatwa, at least $1,1 billion, almost a quarter of the country’s budget is needed annually for smooth running and adequate supply of drugs and other consumables in the ministry.
The allocated funds against the needed funding grossly outweigh each other and this is cause for concern.
A few months back, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health Parliament threatened to sabotage the 2018 budget if the Abuja declaration target was not met, their actions to fulfil their statement is yet to be seen as Parliament is set to debate on the budget when it resumes a week from now.
Meanwhile, opposition legislators have threatened to vote against the budget arguing it was shallow. MDC-T vice President, advocate Nelson Chamisa is on record to have said the budget did not meet their expectations adding that it was a mockery that the Health ministry was underfunded as compared to Defence.
Elsewhere, Rwanda with an estimated population of over 11 million has managed to allocate 23% of their budget allocation to health for 2017/18.