National health insurance scheme on the cards

Dr Parirenyatwa

Dr Parirenyatwa

Mabasa Sasa at the United Nations
Government is finalising a Draft Bill to create a National Health Insurance Scheme that will facilitate universal healthcare cover for Zimbabweans, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa has said.

In an interview in between high-level engagements of ministers and Heads of State and Government attending the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly here, Dr Parirenyatwa said his ministry was working with the Public Service Ministry on the intricacies of the proposed scheme.

He said the draft would be presented to relevant Cabinet committees soon.

Dr Parairenyatwa is part of President Mugabe’s delegation to the UN General Assembly, which opened on Monday. Also accompanying the President are First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, and other senior Government officials.

Dr Parirenyatwa said the engagements he had been involved in thus far at the UN had given him further impetus to steer through the draft legislation on a National Health Insurance Scheme.

He said Presidents Mugabe, Peter Mutharika (Malawi) and Edgar Lungu (Zambia) had been instrumental in shaping the talks around health, education and employment.

“Only 10 percent of our people are covered under the current health insurance (run by medical aid societies), so that means 90 percent of the population has to pay cash for healthcare.

“It is important that we have a sustainable national health insurance because many people can’t afford (medical aid). It should be universal, but it is important that it is sustainable,” he said.

He said this meant looking at matters of affordability in terms of people being able to contribute, or if the scheme would require establishment of a new tax. Another possible source of funding could be the National Social Security Authority, the minister said.

The Health Minister said Zimbabwe would had invited the Cubans to come to the country and assist with prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV programmes after the Caribbean island reported that it had reduced the incidence of such to zero percent.

He said Zimbabwe wanted to ensure that every pregnant woman was screened for HIV, and that all children infected be put on treatment.

Dr Parirenyatwa said other UN engagements focused on youth employment, with emphasis on creation of formal sector support rather than informal jobs for young people.

He said health figured highly in all deliberations, and the Sustainable Development Goals emphasised the importance of this sector by making related matters goal number three of the 17 goals.

World leaders endorsed the SDGS last Friday at the Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the successor global initiative to the Millennium Development Goals.

The minister added that there was much interest in funding education and youth lifestyles that may have debilitating effects on development.

At the General Assembly on Monday, President Mugabe underscored the importance of health and gender issues to Africa’s development trajectory.

He said: “The promotion of gender equality is critical for the realisation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The African Union designated 2015 ‘The Year of the Advancement of Women Empowerment and Development Towards Agenda 2063’ in order to mobilise our individual and collective actions around this key issue.

“The growing list of phenomenon that neither respect nor know any borders makes it imperative that we mobilise all mechanisms of co-operation to effectively overcome them.

“Terrorism and extreme violence, communicable diseases such as HIV and Aids, tuberculosis, malaria, bird flu and Ebola cannot be overcome single-handedly. The United Nations and its specialised agencies is the place and mechanism for his indispensable ad necessary co-operation.”