Health worker and political commentator Setfree Mafukidze says Zimbabwe does not have a health minister and senior officials in the Ministry of Health and Childcare are not up to the task.
The current Minister of Health is Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who took over the portfolio in 2020 following the sacking of Obadiah Moyo.
Mafukidze made the remarks in response to exchanges between Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Mthuli Ncube and opposition MPs during a Question and Answer session in the National Assembly over the state of cancer treatment in Zimbabwe.
In his responses, Ncube said the funds to purchase cancer machines are available and Treasury is waiting for the Ministry of Health to make requests. Read the extract below:
HON. MATSUNGA: Thank you, Mr Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Minister Ncube. I understand the Government had said that it will purchase radiotherapy machines that will help those who are living with cancer.
As you all know, cancer knows no age; infants in hospitals are being diagnosed with cancer.
How far has the Government gone with purchasing those radiotherapy machines that will help Zimbabwean citizens together with those that I lead in Mufakose Constituency?
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker Sir. I thank the Hon. Member for that very important question regarding the purchase of machines for assisting our cancer patients.
We stand ready, with the resources to purchase the equipment. What is going on in the Ministry of Health and Child Care is that they are scoping the kind of demand for this equipment but we stand ready. We have adequate resources to equip our critical hospitals.
For example, if you go to Harare South where we just completed the development of a new medium-sized hospital.
We are determined to keep equipping our hospitals and build new hospitals. So the issue really is not one of the resources but just planning and we are working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to roll out the acquisition of this cancer equipment. Thank you.
HON. MATSUNGA: My question was not concerning Harare Hospital because it is not functioning well due to a shortage of nurses.
I am asking concerning radiotherapy machines that will help those who are suffering from cancer.
Our economy is in a bad state that it cannot allow people to access health facilities from other countries.
I am asking about machines so that we do not have to look for health facilities in other countries for radiotherapy treatment.
I am not asking about hospitals in Harare, there are a lot of hospitals. I am specifically on radiotherapy machines.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker Sir. I thank the Hon. Member for that impassioned question once again.
As I said earlier, we have the resources to purchase the equipment. We are going through a scoping exercise with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to purchase such equipment.
We will update the Hon. Member as we progress with the programme of purchasing that equipment. I thank you.
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you, Mr Speaker Sir. Mr Speaker on the supplementary question, the issue is not only the machines.
The issue is running the machines – simple blood tests for cancer cannot be done in this country at the moment.
There are a lot of people who are sending their blood samples to South Africa for diagnosis.
Can the Hon. Minister assure the House that something concrete will happen in the next couple of months?
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you, Hon. Markham, you asked three questions. I can assure you that as Government, we stand ready to support whatever is required in terms of testing for blood services.
As I said, we always wait for line ministries to make requests and we have the resources for such services and it is not difficult.