President Mnangagwa pledges world class health service

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New York (New Ziana) – President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Monday the government planned to create a world class health delivery service that would also foster medical-related tourism, a new industry his administration was keen to develop in the country.

Speaking at a health investment stakeholders’ meeting here, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly, he said this was part of an ambitious plan to provide universal healthcare in the country by 2030.

But he said sanctions the West had imposed on Zimbabwe, to force the government to stop its land reforms, were hampering efforts to develop health delivery infrastructure and services.

The reforms involved the compulsory acquisition of excess white owned farmland to resettle landless blacks to redress colonial land ownership imbalances which favoured the former.

In protest, the West slapped sanctions on the country, including trade restrictions and withdrawal of international financial support, which have crippled the government’s ability to provide social services such as health.

But President Mnangagwa said inspite of this, the government would press ahead with plans to develop a world class health delivery service in the country in partnership with private sector investors drawn from internal and external markets.

This, he said, involved the construction and equipment of healthcare facilities in both rural and urban areas to reduce distances people travelled to access services to no more than 10 kilometres.

In total, the government plans to build 6 600 health centres in the next five years, mainly in marginal areas, with much of the financing coming from the national budget, and aids and health levies.

But in towns and cities, President Mnangagwa said his administration was counting on the involvement of the private sector in the development of health services, with government more playing a facilitative role such as creating a conducive investment climate and offering free land for construction of infrastructure.

“To accelerate the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 3, we are cognizant of the need to collaborate with partners and investors. If we do it on our own, the pace will be very slow, but if we create an environment conducive to attract foreign investment into our jurisdiction, the pace of development will be faster,” he said.

“The entire health service sector from infrastructure to actual health provision as well as drug manufacturing and research and development presents immense opportunities in Zimbabwe,” President Mnangagwa said.

But perhaps the most ambitious of the government’s plans is to develop health facilities that would lure medical tourists from around the world to Zimbabwe.

President Mnangagwa said the government intended to build this sub-sector of the tourism industry around the resort town of Victoria Falls, which has now also been declared a health economic zone, in addition to being a financial economic zone.

This is where, he said, government was hoping to attract local and foreign investment in health infrastructure of world class status to be able to attract medical tourists.

“We have declared the Victoral Falls an economic zone, a health economic zone, a financial economic zone. Now to attract more tourists in that area, we are told that its necessary to have a state of the art health centre and we don’t have, so we would want to ask those who have capacity to provide a state of the art health centre in Victoria Falls, then we would benefit from more tourists coming to Zimbabwe,” he said.

“It is important that we have a state of the art health centre in that place, the Victoria Falls,” President Mnangagwa stressed.

In addition, he said the government would also provide free land to investors setting up plants to manufacture drugs and other health-related consumables in the country as part of his government’s plans to develop a world class health service, and make this access to all by 2030.

New Ziana

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