Community health group pushes for better budget next year

The health ministry needs to develop its management methods to ensure Zimbabweans get the quality healthcare enshrined in the constitution – so says a new report from the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH).

Itai Rusike
Itai Rusike

In the position paper, Budget Allocation for the Health Sector for 2015: Incorporating Post Budget Analysis for 2014, shared with the health and finance ministries and the parliamentary portfolio committee on health, the working group has urged government to set aside enough money for the health service.

Itai Rusike, executive director of the CWGH, said the government should honour its commitments to ensure adequate health financing and craft its own set of development goals towards sustainable well-being for all.

“Government should come up with health specific goals that maximise healthy lives at all stages of life with clear strategies for contributions by other sectors to health, in line with the provisions of the constitution,” said Rusike.

“It should ensure community accountability mechanisms through the strengthening of health governance at all levels of the health delivery system by encouraging community involvement at all levels of health care provision, capacitating and monitoring them to perform.”

Rusike called on the government to work towards building public trust, communication and a culture of transparency and intolerance to corruption in the way it managed health budgets.

“The provision of accounting software at all levels that handle funds at health institutions is critical as a way of reducing leakages,” said Rusike, adding that a significantly larger share of the budget should go towards financing health services at the district levels.

The CWGH said the 2013 budget allocation met 52.6 per cent of the health ministry’s requirement. This figure dropped to 47 per cent in the 2014 budget allocation, leaving the ministry with a shortfall of more than $3.7m.

“Government should establish earmarked taxation strategies, linked to sectors that are expected to grow substantially and to key areas of population health,” said Rusike.

The CWGH is a network of 50 national and community organisations, including labourers, peasant farmers, women, the disabled and churches, who review experiences of health care and propose strategies for enhancing health services and community participation in health.

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