10 March 2011

Mozambique: Donors Concerned At Falling Health Budget

Photo: Eskinder Debebe/UN
In the province of Gaza in Southern Mozambique, it has the highest HIV rate in the country of 19.4%. The Day Care Clinic of Zai-Zai opened its doors on 26 November 2002 and provides services to those seeking to improve quality of life of parents and children living with HIV/AIDS

Maputo — The group of donors who support the Mozambican Health Ministry have expressed alarm at the reduction in the proportion of the state budget allocated to health care.

Speaking on behalf of the donors at a meeting on Thursday of the Joint Coordinating Committee between the Health Ministry and its partners, Marc Gerritsen of the Dutch Embassy said the fall in the Health Ministry's share of the budget meant that "instead of foreign funds being considered as additional to the efforts of Mozambique to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in Health, they are replacing internal contributions."

He said the Health Ministry had difficulties in claiming its rightful share of the budget "because the other sectors point to the foreign funding granted to health by the donors".

Gerritsen blamed the inadequate budget allocation for the fact that health units run out of crucial drugs. He said that for six months in 2010 there were no stocks of the anti-malarial drug fansidar.

"This led to a fall in the number of pregnant women benefiting from at least two doses of intermittent malaria prophylaxis from over 50 per cent in 2009 to less than 15 per cent in 2010", he said This could lead to increased deaths among mothers and children and to a rise in premature births.

Gerritsen also pointed to the restrictions on the health ministry hiring new staff. Thus Mozambican health education institutions graduated 2,322 people in 2010 - but that year, the Ministry only had the money to recruit 1,700 new staff. This year the figure has fallen to just 1,000 new staff.

Donor funds were thus being used to train staff, who then found they had no jobs in the health units.

Gerritsen noted that the Mozambican government's National Human Resource Development Strategy "recognises the importance of increasing the work force in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and we should use all means possible to show that the health sector needs to recruit all the health workers who have been trained".

Gerritsen recognised that these problems are not under the control of Health Minister Alexandre Manguele - and neither is the failure of the Administrative Tribunal to publish the reports from its audits of the health sector.

Non-publication of the Administrative Tribunal reports "limits the state's accountability to its citizens", he added, "although the external audits show that there is not much to hide".

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