Diamonds should fund health: NGOs

Non-governmental organisations have called on the government to utilise proceeds from natural resources to fund the ailing health sector.

The call was made after major donors such as Medecins Sans Frontiers and Expanded Support Programme revealed that they were pulling out. Global Fund also announced major cutbacks on committed funds and has cancelled Round 11. It is feared that these major changes to the funding landscape will worsen the overall burden of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Fears are rife whether the country will meet its Millennium Development Goal of combating HIV and AIDS, Malaria and other diseases by 2015.

The Minister of Finance Tendai Biti is on record stating that diamonds sold between last year and this year should have brought in more than $3 billion. Therefore, NGOs are lobbying for diamond proceeds to be channelled towards sustaining the country’s health care.

The Zimbabwe National Network of People Living With HIV executive director, Professor Tabona Shoko, said a small allocation of diamond proceeds would make a significant change in sustaining HIV programmes.

“The government should allocate some of its natural resources towards HIV sustenance. There should be a proportion of diamond sales allocated towards combating the virus,” said Shoko.

Zimbabwe AIDS Network director, Lindiwe Chaza, reiterated the need to channel national resources “towards saving lives, especially now when the Global Fund has reduced aid towards HIV programmes”.

Responding to the call, minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr Henry Madzorera acknowledged the proposal.

“All we want is to make sure that we get adequate money for health care. We have already indicated how much we want from the Ministry of Finance, and they gave us what they could,” he said.

The ministry requested more than $600 million but they only got $340 million allocated in the budget.

Dr Madzorera said that the National AIDS Trust Fund would play a critical role in the eradication of HIV/AIDS in the country.

“We have the National AIDS Trust Fund. It has shown improvement for the past three years ever since the formulation of the inclusive government. Not forgetting that our economy has been recovering too.”

Post published in: News

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