The major drive for the Zimbabwe Health Financing Strategy and the Zimbabwe National Health Financing Policy is to address the challenges that people are facing in the health sector, these include failure to pay for health services, high out of pocket expenditure for health and low and unpredictable government allocations to the health sector.
The Zimbabwean government is mandated to deliver quality and equitable health services to the population of Zimbabwe with the desire to have the highest possible level of health and quality of life for all citizens. This is to be attained through the combined efforts of individuals, communities, organizations and the government. This will allow Zimbabweans to participate fully in the development of the country. This vision will be accomplished through guaranteeing every Zimbabwean access to an essential health service package.
In 2001, the African Union countries met and pledged to set a target of allocating at least 15% of their annual budgets to improving the health sector. In Zimbabwe the Abuja Agreement has not been achieved as the allocations have been ranging between 6 to 9%. Every year the health sector needs $1,3 billion to lessen the complaints on accessibility and affordability of medicines, gloves and other utilities. Human resource for health is key and there has to be appropriate drugs, correct infrastructure which includes equipment, buildings, X-ray machinery, transport and communication. The Ministry of Health and Child Care has therefore committed to the goals or key result areas which are; strengthening priority health programs, improving service delivery platforms or entities and improving the enabling environment for service delivery.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) together with technical cooperating partners which are the World Bank, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the Health Development Fund (HDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) developed the Zimbabwe Health Financing Strategy and the Zimbabwe National Health Financing Policy. The target is to ensure that every one has access to quality health services irrespective of the geographic location or financial status, thus improving the health delivery system in Zimbabwe.
The Health Development Partners that are funding the Health Development Fund (HDF) have raised about US$120 million towards maternal and child health and the main aim of the HDF is to ensure equitable access to quality health services for women and children. The main goal is to contribute to reduction of the maternal mortality rate by 50% and under 5 mortalities by 50% by 2020. The main focus is to look at the efficient use of available resources in the health sector and also to promote equity and equality.
At the launch the Minister, Dr Parirenyatwa, stated that Zimbabwe has implemented various innovative financing reforms and some, like the AIDS levy, have been successful.
Zimbabwe was the first in the world to start the AIDS levy where 3% of every formally employed individual’s salary is channeled towards the AIDS levy and many countries are learning from it. Results based financing method is now being used and the health levy fund where 5 cents is taken from every $1 of airtime and channeled towards the health sector. The money that has been collected through this is estimated to be around $20 million.
CHAI expressed commitment to supporting implementation of the policy and strategy. The launch was a pathway for every Zimbabwean to have access to quality health services they require with minimal hindrances like distance or affordability and achieving this would require political will and technical support.
According to WHO, among countries that have completed their National Health Policy and National Health Strategy in the WHO AFRO Region, Zimbabwe is the 17th while other countries are still at planning stage.
There is hope that implementation of the National Health Financing Policy and Zimbabwe Health Financing Strategy will not be faced with lack of sustained government commitment, adequate human resources and lack of technical capacity.
The launch of the two was also attended by government officials, parliamentarians, CSOs, health development partners and donors.
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