While we appreciate that his initial appointment could have been influenced by his age (93 years) as a number of older persons suffer from Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs). It is unfortunate that his appointment did not fit well with his current belief and practise in the health services sector in Zimbabwe. Mugabe is a strong believer in health services in Asia where he has spent most of his time and millions of state funds seeking treatment and therefore there is no way he can be a goodwill ambassador for Africa. It has also been reported that his daughter also delivered her first born child outside the country and such incidences reflect negatively on how the first family views health services in the country and Africa.
His government has not been prioritising health services in its budget, but rather prioritising his personal health and that of his family. In 2016 alone, Mugabe spent close to USD36 million on foreign and domestic trips while most referral institutions were allocated less than USD1 million dollars. In 2016 again, the total budget allocated to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare stood at 9,7% (US$330 million), 5,93% shy of the 15% as recommended under the Abuja Declaration.
The prevailing public health situation in Zimbabwe does not fit to honour Mugabe a health ambassadorial role. His government has privatised health services and collapsed financing for Research and Development in public health. The poor and vulnerable cannot access basic services as they have to pay for services, a number of women continue to be detained by hospitals after failing to pay maternal fees. In rural areas, people walk long distances to access public health facilities while at the same time government does not have adequate human resources for health.
Treatment for non-communicable diseases such as Cardiovascular Diseases, Cancer, Urogenital, Blood, and Endocrine Diseases and Chronic Respiratory Diseases among others is out of reach for ordinary citizens with fewer facilities in public health facilities while a few opt for foreign countries and expensive private medical facilities. The annual years of healthy life lost per 100,000 people from non-communicable diseases in Zimbabwe have increased by 5.0% since 1990, with an average of 0.2% a year. The conditions of service for critical health staff in both urban and rural areas are deplorable. A number of major hospitals do not have infrastructure and equipment to provide the much needed services. Government mostly relies on donor funding for equipment.
Almost each year, doctors and nurses go on strike in an effort to pressure government to address their concerns. It is therefore against this background that the CiZC applauds the WHO for its recent decision of reversing President Mugabe’s appointment.Post published in: Featured