CLAIMS by South African Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi that over 70% of women seeking maternity services in Musina, a border town across the Limpopo River, south of Beitbridge, are Zimbabwean, is a huge indictment on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
The damning revelation comes after a revelation of depressing statistics that Zimbabwe’s health sector lost more than 2 000 workers in 2021 who quit the public service for greener pastures outside the country.
Thus, the health sector’s investment requirement of approximately US$2,8 billion, till 2025, and annual underspending in the development of such establishments leaves us questioning government’s priorities.
With rising costs and a growing population, universal healthcare was identified by the United Nations as a major priority area alongside climate change.
However, despite the need for medical facilities in Zimbabwe, what we have seen is a government that fails to provide for a struggling citizenry hit by hyper-inflation and grossly under-equipped health facilities.
Even personal protective equipment, which is a basic tool in the fight against COVID-19, has been woefully inadequate, putting the underpaid health workers’ lives at risk.
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as Health minister, quite often flies out of the country for medical attention, despite publicly chastising individuals who blow the scarce foreign currency in the country to seek treatment outside our borders. This is rank hypocrisy.
For people to trust local health facilities, it would be prudent for Chiwenga to stop jetting outside the country for treatment and rehabilitate public hospitals which have turned into death traps as a result of gross underfunding.
Government must pay health professionals competitive salaries to prevent the ongoing brain drain and stop unnecessary expenditure which doesn’t benefit the populace.
The failure by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to allocate 15% of the country’s budget to the health sector as stipulated by the Abuja Declaration speaks of a government that does not prioritise the health of its citizens despite claiming otherwise.
It is our hope that this year, we will see a vast improvement in the upliftment of health facilities to enable the likes of Chiwenga to seek treatment locally like all of us.