As Zimbabweans await the presentation of the 2021 national budget by Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube this month, Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) has called for an increase in the domestic financing of the health sector for the country to realise sustainable universal health coverage.
Always falling beyond the Abuja declaration which stipulates that at least 15 percent of the fiscus should be allocated to the sector, Zimbabwe’s health budget remains predominantly donor-funded, something which is a cause for concern for many.
“My worry is that if you look at our country, Zimbabwe, we are still highly dependent on external donors and we have always said to government, it is risky and unsustainable for a country to substantially rely on external donors because the day when donors pull the plug we will be left completely exposed,” said CWGH executive director, Itai Rusike.
He was speaking in Harare, Tuesday, during a budget advocacy training they organised for journalists from across the country.
“I am sure most of you know how (Donald) Trump (United States President) used to behave. You wake up early in the morning, there is a tweet from Trump saying, we are no longer funding WHO. Similarly for the government of Zimbabwe, look at our HIV programmes, TB programmes, Malaria programmes – wholly donor-funded.”
He added: “And Global Fund right now is talking of a transition. What is going to happen when the Global Fund is no longer able to fund HIV, TB and Malaria? Will the government of Zimbabwe be able to take over from the Global Fund? I don’t see that happen.”
Rusike said the importance of domestic health financing could not be over emphasized.
“There is no way a country can achieve universal health coverage by relying on external donors,” he argued.
“You can never achieve universal health coverage.”
He cited Rwanda as an example of a country doing well in its health delivery system as a result of meaningful domestic financing of the sector.
“Look at their health indicators: maternal and child health, they are excellent,” said Rusike. “Look at their water and sanitation – excellent. They are doing very well because the bulk of the money that is going to the health sector is coming from the government of Rwanda. It’s sustainable.”
He said it was high time the government of Zimbabwe also prioritised the sector.
“Yes, some people may say why only the health sector. Personally, I believe that yes everything else is important but nothing is more important than health. That’s why as CWGH we are always advocating for more resources to be allocated to the health sector.”
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)