BY KUDAKWASHE TAGWIREYI/ VARAIDZO MUDEWAIRI
THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged nations to invest in strong health systems that leave no one behind in terms of access.
In a statement to commemorate the annual International Health Coverage Day yesterday, which is celebrated on December 12 every year, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said poverty was impacting negatively on attainment of universal health coverage for several countries.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic had also exacerbated health inequities in the world.
“Over 800 million people spend over 10% of their income on healthcare. Another 100 million people are pushed into poverty each year due to spending on healthcare, and over 50% lack access to essential health services,” Ghebreyesus said.
At independence in 1980, the Zimbabwe government crafted the Equity in health policy, which was aimed at making everyone access health services.
However, the economic crisis gripping the country has posed a serious challenge to policies aimed at achieving comprehensive and equitable healthcare.
Stakeholders in the health sector yesterday told NewsDay that the country’s health system was deplorable to the extent that there universal health coverage.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said: “As we mark UHC Day 2021, we are reminded that the current national situation reflects on what happens when we do not invest in health systems. It is undeniable that the deplorable state of the country’s health system requires urgent attention, especially giving priority focus to revitalising primary healthcare and addressing the social determinants of health to achieve universal health coverage thus enabling every Zimbabwean equitable access to essential quality services without facing financial hardships.”
He said patients in remote areas faced transport problems and had to walk 10km to 30km to the nearest clinic.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said Zimbabwe should put in place measures to ensure the constitutionally-guaranteed right to healthcare is enjoyed by all Zimbabweans.
“More specifically, we call upon the government to increase its fiscal investments in the health sector, improve the human resources for health instituations and ensure that basic services in maternal, child and reproductive health are accessible to all those in need,” the rights doctors said.