Parliament has said the ZWL$474.7 billion (11.2%) of the ZWL$4.5 trillion 2023 national budget allocated to the Ministry of Health and Childcare is inadequate.
Presenting the report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care on the 2023 health budget, acting chairperson of the committee Nicola Watson said:
This implies that the health sector will continue to significantly rely on out-of-pocket expenditures and donor assistance.
This is not sustainable given the low disposable incomes among the public and the unpredictability of donor support.
Watson said the 11.2% allocation towards health was below the 15% budget allocation stipulated by the Abuja Declaration.
In 2001, the African Union (AU) member states signed the Abuja Declaration, thereby pledging to allocate at least 15% of their national budgets each year to improve their healthcare systems. Said, Watson:
All the hospitals across the country were grossly underfunded in the 2023 national budget.
Central hospitals received $113.4 billion, while provincial hospitals received $35.02 billion.
This level of financing will leave them incapacitated to deliver services.
It is of concern that there is gross under-investment in medicines. It is now normal for patients to buy basic medicines like painkillers; and the lack of medical supplies at hospitals has seen the mushrooming of pharmacies that are fleecing patients of their hard-earned cash.
The 2023 national budget is grossly inadequate to address the massive brain drain.
The committee also accused the government of failing to adequately remunerate health workers resulting in brain drain. It said:
Health workers continue to earn salaries in local currency, yet they pay for expenses in United States dollars.
Family health was allocated $12.09 billion and this constitutes only 37% of its bid.
This is grossly inadequate given the level of maternal deaths and health needs at hospitals.