Treasury allocates health sector $6,5bn

TREASURY has allocated $6.5 billion towards improvement of the health delivery system and sustaining gains already made in the sector, including catering for staff welfare.

Presenting the 2020 National Budget in Harare yesterday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said Government was cognisant of the challenges facing the sector, which include shortage of medicines, consumables, essential medical equipment, overcrowding, poor diet, inadequate infrastructure and an ongoing industrial action by doctors.

He said the country’s disease burden has also greatly increased with conditions such as non-communicable diseases on the rise, coupled with an increased catchment area for most health facilities.

“To consolidate our achievements in health care, I am allocating ZWL$6.5 billion to the sector. This will cater for health infrastructure, personnel welfare, medicines, drugs, and sundries, among other essential hospital equipment and necessities,” said Prof Ncube.

He said in 2020, Government will also prioritise building health infrastructure, including renovating both urban and rural health facilities by leveraging on public-private-partnerships.

Prof Ncube said priority will also be on recruitment of additional health personnel.

He said Government will also ensure that the National Budget prioritises procurement of vaccines and kits for immunisation.

Prof Ncube said labour constrained households which consist of persons with disabilities, the chronically ill, the elderly and child-headed households will also receive assisted health care under the Assisted Medical Treatment Orders (AMTO) facility and cash transfers among other social protection benefits. 

“The Abuja target remains an elusive target for the country as Government expenditure on health is still less than 15 percent, (Abuja target) over the period 2012-2019,” said Prof Ncube.

He said Government has, however, made significant strides in some areas such as reducing the number of under five deaths, improvement in immunisation coverage and prevention of mother- to-child-transmission (PMTCT).

The country’s under five mortality rate has fallen from 98 per 1000 live births in 2008 to 56 in 2016. Immunisation coverage with both DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus) and measles reached 90 and 95 percent, respectively, while HIV incidence fell from 1 to 0.48.

The rate of PMTCT has also fallen from 30 to 5.7.