MPs urge govt to allocate more funds to health, scrap off maternal fees

LEGISLATORS have called on government to allocate at least 15% of the 2018 national budget to the health sector and scrap off maternal fees in line with the 2001 Abuja declaration which Zimbabwe is signatory to.

By Nokuthaba Dlamini

Speaking during pre-budget consultative meetings in Victoria Falls last week, legislators said government had neglected the health sector, with the military and the President’s Office always getting a lion’s share of the budget.

“A wealthy nation is a healthy nation. So we need to come up with a budget that supports the health sector. For instance, if we approve that $5,2 billion, 15% percent should be channelled towards health,” MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese said.

MDC-T vice-president Thokozani Khupe concurred, saying: “The human resource is produced by a woman from the Head of State coming down and we are saying women are being punished for producing such resources. We are, therefore, calling for free maternity to every woman from first trimester check up, delivering and six weeks after birth. We do not want any ambiguity in these issues and I repeat, no woman should pay a cent during that period and it must be clearly articulated in the budget.”

Health and Child Care David minister Parirenyatwa told the legislature that over the years, his ministry only received a paltry 6,5% of the budget, which was inadequate in light of emerging killer diseases such as cancer.

“Free maternity care is a must, but it is not being observed because hospitals say it is their key avenue to get money as they have no other means. So you need to push with me on this one as it will reduce infant mortality death rate that keeps rising. For those that can afford or on medical aid, they will be exempted,” he said.

“As we are slowly weaning from HIV and Aids, cancer is still giving us some torrid time and let us all be advocates in terms of disseminating awareness campaigns. In women, if you start to feel some pains or lumps in your breast, immediately consult. According to information gathered, many women are told by their husbands that their breasts have lumps and that is when they come to hospital and the growth will be huge. So women, start your own tests.

“And to men, after the age of 40, make sure that you are examined regularly because prosthetic cancer is killing many. For instance if you’re passing urine, it must cross a river but when it doesn’t go far anymore, chances are high that there is a growth that blocks the passage.”

He added that there was a need for more research on drugs to treat cancer.

The minister said there is a shortfall of 6 000 nurses and hence the need to recruit more to train while some will be exported to high-demand countries like Sudan and Europe.