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Zimbabwe Healthcare focust : Private Players Skeptical Amid Disputed National Budget Allocation

By Senior Reporter

Private experts in the healthcare sector are skeptical on the betterment of Zimbabwe’s health care sector amid great disgruntlement towards national budget allocation by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube towards the sector and an array of seasonal hindrances that continue to bar great expansion and development.

Responding to journalist’s at the Annual General Meeting of the Private Healthcare Association of Zimbabwe (PHAZ) in Nyanga Seasoned Medical expert and Vice President of Private Hospital Association Letitia Gaga said there are lots and lots of challenges that have and are still putting the medical and healthcare sector under the wheel and if they go unattended the healthcare sector will stifle.

“After doing a ground survey and engagements with hospital personnel and real life events in the medical sector we have noticed that there a lot of problems that continue to affect our medical landscape. These span from shortage of drugs, lack of investment, lack of research, and limited funding. There are many but the main issue is that if these concerns continue unattended the medical sector will stifle.”

Gaga also commented on the absence of loans and conducive statutory guides to help interested parties to open hospitals citing that the available charges are draconian.

“To start a hospital in Zimbabwe the amount needed is USD 11,500 which is too exorbitant for players who are willing to add value to the sector. It’s also a worry that banks government is not moving towards engagements with banks on how best interested parties can get loans specifically meant to start a hospital. That in it self needs improvement.”

Economist, prof Gift Mugano. Pic by Shingirai vambe

With over 49% of Zimbabwe’s population living in extreme poverty (survive on less than USD 1,90 per day) access to pharmaceutical and medical facilities remains a humongous challenge to many.

To get a deep perspective on the forecast of Zimbabwe’s Healthcare sector Post On Sunday caught up with Economist Professor Gift Mugano.

He said it worries a lot when one considers the future of Zimbabwe’s medical and healthcare sector considering that many people within the country are forking out of their pockets to fund medical bills amid an ailing public health care sector.

“Figures that are coming out in terms of access to health indicate that most of the services are accessed through out of the pocket for about 90 % and it worries. Only 10% is on medical aid and you are aware that the 10% has to make a top up. With the view that most of the people are falling into poverty, in specific we have 49% of Zimbabwe’s population in extreme poverty while 70 % are in poverty. It tells me that going forward in this gloomy economy which shows that we are supposed s sustaining the challenges of the last 5 years of inflation most people will not be able to access healthcare facilities.”

Mugano added that even though the situation is sour there is need for players and stakeholders in the medical and health care fraternity to target and mobilize diaspora fund.

“However, there is a silver lining. There is an opportunity for the medical services health fraternity players to mobilize diaspora finding. We are aware that we are getting about $2 billion from the diaspora per year. So the scope for the medical sector is to be organized, create a structured niche where diaspora actually contribute to the local medical sector.”

Zimbabweans across the field are, in most cases charged USD 70 as consultation fee before they are given prescriptions.

This has put a toll order of the access of health care facilities amid an influx to private health care facilities from public sector which continues to suffer.

“One of the major talks from this engagement is the cost profile which is the amount charged on patients. It is quite expensive to an extent that if they are not careful even if Zimbabweans receive receive a money from the diaspora they will chose between local health services or go to Zambia. There is overwhelming evidence that Zimbabweans are going to Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, and South Africa, ” added Mugano.

Finance Minister declared ZWL 473, 8 billion for the health care sector from a lot of ZWL 4,5 trillion.

“11% budget allocation is violation of the Abuja declaration which states that health sector should receive at least 15%,” said Letitia Gaga at the AGM.

African countries like Rwanda have so far walked the talk when it comes to emancipating health care facilities.

The recent budget allocation for medical and health care facility for Rwanda stands at 23%.

Countries like Rwanda have seen expansion of pharmaceutical industries with local players partnering up with regional and international player’s to setup production companies.

It’s unlike Zimbabwe’s scenario whereby only 10 companies are licensed to process drugs