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President Mnangagwa says gvt targets universal healthcare

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New York (New Ziana) – President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Monday the government was targeting to achieve universal healthcare in the country, but was being constrained by illegal economic sanctions slapped on Zimbabwe two decades ago by the West.

The sanctions were imposed on the country to force the government to reverse its land reforms under which excess farmland was compulsorily acquired from white farmers to resettle landless blacks.

These include withdrawal of multilateral and bilateral international financial support, and trade restrictions which have cost the country an estimated US$100 billion over the two decades.

In addition to blunting the economy, the sanctions have also severely limited the country’s ability to provide essential social services such as health and transport.

Addressing a United Nations High-Level Meeting on Universal Health here, President Mnangagwa said inspite of the challenges the sanctions and other factors presented, the country will persevere to provide healthcare to the majority of the population, particularly the marginalized.

“Zimbabwe continues to address gaps in our health delivery service for Universal Health Coverage. Our national development agenda, the National Health Strategy 2016-2020 under the theme Equity and Quality: Leaving no one behind attests to this commitment,” he said.

“Sadly however, our efforts are being greatly hampered by the ruinous illegal economic sanctions imposed on our country,” he said.

He later told journalists: “The need for removing sanctions is yesterday, and our economy is suffering as a result of those sanctions. To us its human rights violations.”

Using mainly locally mobilized resources, President Mnangagwa said, the government was proceeding with plans to build more than 6 000 healthcare centres in the next five years, especially in rural areas where these facilities are not only far in between, but also not as fully equipped as in urban areas.

Internally mobilized funding for healthcare development include the aids and health levies, as well as direct budgetary allocation, which was quite high.

“While we have made significant strides in ensuring that no one should travel more than 10 kilometres to reach a health service, some communities still have limited access to health facilities. Government is therefore constructing health posts, clinics and hospitals in remote areas to address this challenge. A total of 6 600 health posts will be constructed over the next 5 years,” President Mnangagwa said.

He said the government had also launched a national health insurance scheme to broaden access to healthcare in its quest to ensure universal health coverage in the country in coming years.

In this regard, he said, government had also abolished user fees for the elderly, children under five and pregnant women.

“Zimbabwe has also embarked on setting up a National Health Insurance which will help improve health access to many more people especially those in the informal sector. Our programmes prioritizing maternal, neonatal and child health, have seen remarkable increases in access to basic quality health care services,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said government also recognized the important role the private sector played in health delivery, and called on investors – both local and foreign – to come on board.

“We are cognizant of the need to collaborate with partners and investors for the attainment of our Sustainable Development Goal targets. There are therefore opportunities for the establishment of independent private hospitals and medicine manufacturing plants. Zimbabwe is indeed ‘Open for Business in the health sector,” he said.
New Ziana

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