Harare (New Ziana) – The government should timeously disburse funds that it allocated to the Ministry of Health and Child Care before they are eroded by inflation, an expert has said.
Commenting on the 2022 National Budget which Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube presented on Thursday, Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said it was unfortunate that the budget came at a time when the economy was mired in high inflation, which made budgeting a very complicated matter.
“The risk is that by the time the 2022 National Budget comes into effect in January 2022, it could have been overtaken by inflationary developments rendering it inadequate thereby necessitating a Supplementary Budget very early on during the year,” he said.
“We hope that the issue of late disbursement will be addressed,” he added.
Presenting the 2022 National Budget statement during a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate, Ncube said the government was committed to meeting the Abuja Declaration target of 15 percent of the total national budget to ensure that the country achieved the desired health outcomes.
“Despite the current efforts towards revitalisation of our health sector, it is apparent that gaps still exist in the health delivery system attributed to shortage of medicines, low morale of medical personnel, shortage of critical infrastructure and equipment, including provision of medical equipment, ambulances and operational vehicles,” he said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has further put the fore the inherent capacity deficiencies in the sector.
“Therefore, the 2022 National Budget has allocated ZWL$117.7 billion to the Ministry of Health and Child Care which represents 14.9 percent of total expenditures. That’s the Abuja target right there!, ” he said.
Meanwhile Rusike said the allocation of 14.9 percent of the 2022 National Budget to the Ministry of Health was a positive step towards attainment of the Abuja Declaration target of 15 percent.
He said although it was inadequate to fund critical needs, it was a step in the right direction.
“The allocation of 14.9 percent towards the health sector in the 2022 National Budget presents a positive step towards the attainment of the Abuja target of 15 percent and also for the first time in a number of years that the 14 percent mark has been surpassed.
“The political commitment in getting the health allocations come third after basic education and agriculture is a good start and greatly appreciated.
Rusike however expressed disappointment that the Health budget had not addressed the critical issues.
“It falls short of the Abuja Declaration Target of 15 percent. Moreover, there is greater emphasis on the allocation of more resources to curative services at the expense of preventive services,” he said.
“It is inconceivable and unconscionable that in a country which has faced the Covid-19 pandemic and other fatal environmental diseases, we continue to give little priority to preventive health services. The ability of the health sector to deliver and organize the health services needed to manage the increasing disease burden faced in Zimbabwe depends on a reasonable per capita allocation to health,” he said.