Health budget falls short of Abuja Declaration

Zimbabwe’s finance minister Mthuli Ncube again fell short of meeting the stipulated Abuja Declaration allocation of 15 percent of the country’s national budget towards the health sector.

In his 2022 national budget presentation Thursday, Finance and Economic Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube allocated 12.2 percent of the budget towards the health sector yet according to the Abuja Declaration, countries must commit at least 15 percent of their annual budget towards the health sector.

Out of ZWL968 billion (ZWL$968 268 500 000), the finance minister awarded the Ministry of Health and Child Care, ZWL$117.7 billion (ZWL$117,714,215 000).

However, the finance minister, in his speech said the Ministry of Health and Child Care received 14.9 percent, which was a disparity from the 12.2 percent indicated in the 2022 National Budget Statement.

“Consequently, the 2022 National Budget has allocated ZWL$117.7 billion to the Ministry of Health and Child Care which represents 14.9 percent of the Budget,” he said in Parliament.

In 2021, the health sector was allocated ZWL$54,7 billion, which was about 13 percent of the national budget, ranking in the top five sectors prioritised by the government but critics noted funding still remained inadequate in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prof Ncube acknowledged that Zimbabwe’s health sector was in a crisis and needed an overhaul as he made his presentation before Parliament.

“Mr Speaker Sir, despite the current efforts towards revitalisation of our health sector and successful rollout of Covid-19, it is apparent that gaps still exist in the health delivery system attributed to shortage of medicines, critical infrastructure and equipment.”

Prof Ncube said the priority in 2022 would be on rehabilitation, upgrading and construction of healthcare infrastructure, including the provision of medical equipment, ambulances and operational vehicles.

“Further, the Government will increase funds for medical consumables, hiring of additional medical personnel and reviewing salaries and wages,” indicated the finance minister.

During the national budget consultations, citizens called on the government to increase funding investment into health and prioritise the sector, including its professionals given the fragilities that were exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic after years of neglect.

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