Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Reporter
Treasury will create a special bank account for the health levy from which the funds will be directed to the responsible Ministry of Health and Child Care for use upon request, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
Speaking at a Press conference in Harare recently, Minister Chinamasa said the decision was reached to prevent collections from being chewed up by bureaucracy.
“I do not want a bureaucracy to be established which will have a board, which will have a chief executive, which will have cars,” he said.
“So, the decision which has been taken is that a special account will be opened, so those funds will be channelled and disbursed directly to the Ministry of Health and Child Care for the purpose of which this levy was established, that’s to buy drugs and medical equipment for public hospitals.”
Minister Chinamasa acknowledged the current state of affairs in the health sector, saying Government needed to put a stop to its further deterioration, hence the introduction of the health levy.
He said the levy would be effective from February 1 and not from January 1 as previously announced during the 2017 National Budget statement.
“We will obviously monitor, what the inflows are, is it sufficient to stir through the deterioration that has been there?
“We need to put a stop to that,” said Minister Chinamasa.
“The state of our health institutions, the shortage of drugs is not very good and we need to address it and this is our way to address it. We will monitor how much is going into that account and if need be, see what we can do.”
All mobile phone users will contribute five percent of each dollar’s worth of airtime or mobile data towards the newly introduced levy, which is running under the theme: “Talk, Surf and Save a Life”.
According to Treasury, the move was precipitated by the need to address over reliance on donor funding and Government’s inability to invest more in the public health delivery system.
In 2015, 65 percent of Government and local authority funding went towards salaries and benefits, while 38,5 percent of the donor funding went towards medicines and other commodities.
Government and local authorities provided about $426 million during 2015, while donors and other external funders provided about $511 million.
For both 2015 and 2016, the total National Budget funding per capita falls short of the newly recommended figures of $86 for provision of priority services.
In 2015, Zimbabwe’s per capita allocation was $70 million, $16 million less than the new recommendation, while this year it stood at $65 million.
For the 2017 financial year, Minister Chinamasa allocated $281,9 million towards the health sector, again falling far short of the sector’s needs.