Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
GOVERNMENT appreciates the cooperation of the private sector in improving the country’s health system before and during the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is the Minister of Health and Child Care, has said.
Officially opening the annual conference of the Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) in Victoria Falls last Friday, VP Chiwenga commended the private sector for heeding Government’s call for urgent intervention following the detection of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe in March last year.
While the Government was the biggest funder of health services mainly through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, but with contribution from other line ministries such as Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage and Justice, and Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, the contribution of the private sector was irreplaceable.
“My ministry appreciates the role of the private sector to rebuild the healthcare sector through complementing Government in the provision of accessible and affordable quality healthcare services for our people,” said VP Chiwenga.
“It is common cause that when Covid-19 was first detected in the country, Government immediately announced the guidelines for prevention and triggered all systems into motion. AHFoZ came on board and took part in the education and awareness campaigns.
“As soon as vaccination became available, the Government embarked on a massive vaccination programme and again medical aid societies voluntarily supported the vaccination.
“When Government invited you the private sector to participate in the programme, medical aid societies willingly embraced the challenge to enhance access to vaccines by their beneficiaries and members of the community at large.
“I urge medical aid societies to continue supporting the Government in these endeavours.
“We are in this together.”
Beyond the pandemic, Government was working on strategies to improve and revamp healthcare services offered by the public sector facilities through re-equipping hospitals and boosting the ambulance fleet.
Government would put in place a robust and appropriate public-private-partnerships framework which was lacking in the past.
“Remember when it comes to funding, Government is the biggest funder, but we value your support and so together, we have got to cooperate,” said VP Chiwenga.
“Right now we have a huge budget which we are taking to the citizenry of the country due to the outbreak of the pandemic which has ravaged the world and has not spared Zimbabwe. We will do our part and we expect you to do yours.”
VP Chiwenga acknowledged contributions made by medical aid societies that had gone beyond just paying medical expenses and had invested in the provision of healthcare services.
These healthcare services complement the overstretched services provided by the public sector and ensure affordable quality healthcare services are available not only to their members, but others as well.
There was need for continuous improvement in the healthcare ecosystem to be able to cope with the demand.
Plans of introducing universal health cover were still underway and these would co-exist with the medical aid societies. The intention was not to diminish the system that was functioning well, but to improve its efficiency.
There was now need for joint meetings to discuss how to balance funding for healthcare services.
The theme for the conference which ended yesterday was “Pandemic, Panic, Leapfrogging and Transformation”.
VP Chiwenga said discussions and resolutions from the forum would feed into the objectives set by the Government towards attaining the sustainable development goals, whose realisation would dovetail with the country’s vision of becoming an upper middle income society by 2030 as espoused by President Mnangagwa.
He said following adoption of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1, 2021-2025) the Ministry of Health and Child Care had developed its National Health Strategy (2021-2025) for alignment with the NDS1 and would share the revised NHS document with AHFoZ.