Rights lobby group says government underfunding health sector

via Rights lobby group says government underfunding health sector | SW Radio Africa by Mthulisi Mathuthu December 11, 2013

A leading human rights lobby organisation has blamed the deteriorating health problems on poor funding and called on the government to increase the annual health budget allocation. The call by the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) comes a week before Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa announces the 2014 budget.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to the 2001 African Union Abuja Declaration, where governments undertook to ensure that 15 percent of their annual budget goes towards the improvement of the health sector. But according to ZADHR chairperson Dr Rudendo Bonde Zimbabwe has yet to meet its obligations, 12 years on.

In his 2013 budget announcement former finance minister Tendai Biti allocated

$407 million towards health and social services out of a total annual budget of $3,8 billion.

This year’s budget comes at a time when Zimbabwe is facing acute economic problems including cash shortages, power cuts and company closures.

Chinamasa recently announced that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund had rejected requests for financial support. According to reports Zimbabwe’s external debt stands at $11 billion.

Speaking to SW Radio Africa’s Cutting Edge programme on Wednesday Bonde urged the government to ensure adequate funding for the health sector, in line with international obligations and to ensure that its policies were fully implemented.

Bonde said despite the inclusion of the right to health in the new constitution the health sector was still faced with many challenges, because of a lack of resources to ensure the provisions in the constitution can be acted upon.

Specifically Bonde lamented the fact that many children under five and elderly people over 65 were still being made to pay for treatment. despite the government policy which is supposed to provide them with free treatment. She also said the conditions in the country’s 55 prisons are appalling. 100 inmates are said to have died this year alone due to poor nutrition and other health related problems.