The Movement for Democratic Change shadow Minister for Health Dr Ruth Labode has called for the creation of a National Health Board to integrate public health standards because the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front government is failing to offer basic services despite receiving more than US$1 billion over the past two years.
Labode said the government had failed to provide basic services despite receiving over US$500 million from donors for health activities in 2013.
She said almost US$600 million had been allocated to the health sector by donor this year.
Labode said hospitals were allocated only US$25 million this financial year when they owed service providers US$33 million.
“This scenario has forced hospitals to deny the poor access to health care. Patients are left to die because they cannot afford tertiary care services. The service providers have withdrawn their services or are demanding cash up front.
“BTS (blood transfusion service) is being owed US$270 000 and demanding cash up front. This is a tragedy because blood is an essential for the tertiary institutes,” Labode said in a statement.
She said corruption was also rife in the health sector resulting in pilferage of drugs, sundries and patient consumables; flouting of informal tenders; and prolonged investigations that yield no results and no punishment.
Wednesday, 12 March 2014
Press Statement by Hon. Dr. Ruth Labode, the MDC Shadow Minister for Health and Child Welfare
The health sector crisis continues unabated, resulting in high maternal mortality and child mortality, morbidity rates. The main causes of poor performances of the sector are:
1. Budgetary constraints
The health sector was allocated US$330 million which is 8% of the national budget, hence failing below the Abuja Declaration of 15%. The budget allocated to the hospitals is US$25 million while the institutions owe suppliers US$33 million leaving them with funding gap of US$12 million.
This scenario has forced hospitals to deny the poor access to health care. Patients are left to die because they cannot afford tertiary care services. The service providers have withdrawn their services or are demanding cash up front. BTS is being owed US$270 000 and demanding cash up front. This is a tragedy because blood is an essential for the tertiary institutes.
Corruption in health institutions, which has gone unabated by the Zanu PF government, has risen to alarming levels. It comes in different forms:
Pilferage of drugs, sundries and patient consumables
Flouting of informal tenders
Prolonged investigations that yield no results and no punishment
3. Human Resources Gap
The migration of trained labour force hit this sector more than any other sector
4. Poor district health systems management
The District health system is the anchor of the health sector. Remember that 70% of the population resides in rural areas.
Once the district health system collapses, the referral hospitals are overcrowded and people are likely to remain in their homes and die.
The District Health System in Zimbabwe has almost collapsed because of:
Poor remuneration for professional workers
Poor referral system, no ambulances
Broken down outreach program
Inability of DHS to provide the Zimbabwe essential health package
Vertical Health Care Program
The failure to convince donors to basket the donated funds and implement a comprehensive health package has increased the cost of service provisions, leaving programs competing for the attention of District Health workers.
Excessive training and re-training of District health workers without follow up visits.
5. Lack of Political Will
The Zanu PF government has failed to honour its constitutional commitment of providing basic services to the people of Zimbabwe. This is despite receiving over US$500 million for health activities in 2013, and almost US$600 million has been allocated to the health sector this year (2014) by donors.
The difficulties facing the health sector are not insurmountable. The provision of quality health is key to the overall wellbeing of the people of Zimbabwe.
There is need for at least 15 per cent of the national budget to be spent on the health sector.
The MDC takes serious cognisance of the importance of health, and its centrality to sustainable national development, noting that no prospects for development will be realised if the population suffers from ill health, and if visitors and investors alike are not assured of access to quality health care.
As the MDC we propose that an integrated health care system that ensures that every citizen and resident has access to quality and affordable health care be established.
A National Health Board integrating key economic and social sectors should be immediately established to integrate public health standards into various areas of economic and social activities.
I thank you
Dr Ruth Labode
Shadow Minister for Health and Child Welfare