The recently allocated health budget by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube will not be enough to curb the deteriorated health crisis in Zimbabwe.
The midterm financial budget allocation for the health sector is less than a quarter of what was proposed by the then Health and Child Care Permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji
Ncube allocated $352 million which is far from the proposed amount of $1,387 billion which is not enough to buy the required equipment and adequate drugs for hospitals and local clinics.
These developments show that the government has been slow in responding to the status quo in which it gives first priority to other things instead of channeling funds to the crumbling health sector.
The health sector is supposed to get 15%’ of the total budget as agreed in the Abuja Declaration of 2001 but Zimbabwe has not been able to fulfill the agreement with its allocations of 6.57% in 2015, 7.46% in 2017, 5.84% in 2018 and this has further decreased with 1.8% in 2019.
“We are being sent home to die,” said one patient at Parirenyatwa who was asked to go back home and recuperate because,“ the hospital has no other drugs he was prescribed by the doctors.
The situation has reduced doctors to the position of informers who are there to diagnose patients without any solution and only providing them with pain relief drugs to ease the pain but not to treat them thereby sending them home to die.
Consultation fees and maternity fees have all risen by 200% making it almost impossible for people to seek medical assistance from local clinics. This is ironical as people can barely afford to buy basics due to the current economic meltdown. This is like wasting money for no services since local clinics have ran out of drugs and do not even own scanning machines for maternal checkups.
Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals, the biggest referrals in the country, have since dropped in standards with Harare hospital having been reported to lack ventilation in its intensive care unit.
Standards in the public health system have taken a nosedive resulting in hospitals failing to dispense basic drugs such as anti-retroviral drugs and pain killers, throwing the lives of the people into danger.
From December to March, the doctors downed their tools to push for better remuneration resulting in massive loss of lives. The intensive care unit (ICU) at Parirenyatwa also gave in to the economic meltdown and was shut down amid reports the authorities failed to repair broken down equipment including 15 ventilation systems, as standards at the institution continue to nosedive.
The decay at these big hospitals is microcosmic of government’s failure to provide decent social services. Most hospitals are using obsolete medical machinery, with Harare Central Hospital’s X-rays and ultrasound scan machines, for instance, reported earlier this year, down most of the time due to persistent water shortages.