VICE President Kembo Mohadi yesterday said Zimbabwe has made great strides towards achieving universal health coverage through a number of health policies. Officiating at the 67th East, Central and Southern Africa (ECSA) Health Ministers’ Conference in Victoria Falls, VP Mohadi called for credibility and accountability in the health sector to achieve social development.
He said Government prioritised primary health care to bring delivery of health closer to the people.
“While we strive for economic development, it’s imperative to note that social development is unachievable without access to affordable, appropriate and quality healthcare,” said VP Mohadi.
“Our healthcare services take the primary health care approach and we are strengthening this approach by further decentralising from rural health centres to village health points which offer a suitable package of services supported by higher levels of care in the system.”
VP Mohadi said Zimbabwe in 1999 introduced the locally financed National Aids Trust Fund, the pre-paid health insurance effective since the 1980s for formally employed workers, the National Health Insurance and the five percent health levy on mobile airtime and data usage.
The mobile tax generates $4 million monthly for the country, VP Mohadi said.
He said the money was used to cover free blood and dialysis services to citizens, as well as improve medicines availability in health institutions.
VP Mohadi implored other countries from the region to learn from Zimbabwe’s success story in universal healthcare initiatives in the midst of challenges.
He challenged the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure credibility by justifying the need for financing by Government.
“With a significant number of our people now employed in the informal sector, Zimbabwe is on the verge of introducing a law to compel this sector to provide healthcare insurance for its workers,” said VP Mohadi.
“This will be achieved through innovatively crafted packages.
“In order to enhance credibility and bankability of the health delivery system, we are now generating evidence from institutionalised National Health Accounts, as well as the National Aids Spending Assessment so as to justify resources requirements from Treasury.”
VP Mohadi highlighted that such approaches would help the country in its transitioning from over-reliance on donor support to largely domestic-based resourcing for effective universal health care.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Abuja Declaration of 1991 which mandates member states to dedicate 15 percent of the national budget to health.
VP Mohadi challenged leaders to come up with initiatives that ensure people have access to affordable, appropriate and quality healthcare and health experts to come up with strategies to address health challenges in the region.
The conference ends tomorrow and aims to take stock of progress made in the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly access to universal health care.
It runs under the theme “Universal Health Coverage: Addressing the health needs of the undeserved”.
ECSA director-general Professor Yoswa Dambisya said throughout its 45-year history, the grouping has been fostering regional co-operation in health with a view to achieving the agenda 2030 on SDGs.
She said some of the challenges faced by member states include lack of universal access to health, hence the need for fostering primary healthcare.
Prof Dambisya said there was optimism for creation of an additional 18 million jobs in the health sector in the region as services improve.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo and Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Richard Moyo were among the participants comprising Government ministers and health experts from the public health sector in different countries.