Chinamasa under fire over health budget

Source: Chinamasa under fire over health budget | The Standard (Local News)

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has been critisised for failing to prioritise the funding of health in the 2018 budget as the Health and Child Care ministry’s vote was dwarfed by that of Defence and other ministries.

By Phyllis Mbanje

Although the allocation of $408 million was an increase of 45% from $281million allocated in 2017, it was still a far cry from the target of 15% set in 2001 by members of the African Union during a conference in Abuja, Nigeria.

African countries pledged to increase their health budget to at least 15% of the state’s annual budget.

Fungisayi Dube of the Citizens Health Watch said although the increased allocation for the Health ministry was encouraging, it still fell short of expectations.

“We welcome and applaud the government for the 45% increase in health funding allocation to $408 million. The increase in allocation, however, still falls far short of the Abuja Declaration target,” she said.

Dube said they were concerned that health was not a priority for the government as it was fifth after some sectors such as defence.

“The right to health takes precedence to any other right, hence it should be prioritised accordingly,” she said. “We implore the government to, in future, make health a priority.”

The Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) had before the budget presentation urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to ensure that 15% of the budget went to health.

“It is Zima’s hope that the president will take the Zimbabwe health agenda seriously and allocate at least 15% of the national annual budget to the sector,” the association said.

“As you enunciated in your inauguration speech, we must respect international conventions.

“One such convention is the Abuja Declaration which states that 15% of the national budget must go to health,” said Zima.

The Community Working Group on Health in their position paper on the budget for 2018 and beyond had also called for the 15% allocation, saying the current high dependency on external financing was unreliable, unpredictable, unsustainable and highly dependent on the political environment.