The Herald (Harare)

21 November 2012

Zimbabwe: 'Prioritise Drugs Procurement'

The bulk of funds allocated to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare must go towards infrastructure development, equipment and drug procurement instead of workers' salaries, a health expert with the European Union has said. In an interview with Star FM last Wednesday, EU's HIV and Aids advisor Mr Paolo Barduagni said Government had increased the 2012 budget allocation for the Health Ministry compared to the previous year.

"The health vote for 2012 has slightly increased compared to 2011," said Mr Barduagni.

"All this increase has been absorbed by the increase of the salaries and not on the non-wage aspect like infrastructure maintenance, medicines and all other things that are essential for an effective health system."

The country's minimal contribution towards its health system, he said, was making it difficult for the donor community to justify their existence in the country.

"Donors are facing difficulties at the moment because our financial support to the health sector is not being complemented by an increase to the health vote of the national budget."

Mr Barduagni said for Zimbabwe to regain its lustre once again Government should prioritise hospital infrastructure development and improve on drug procurement.

Speaking during the same interview, Rock Foundation Medical Centre founder Dr Munyaradzi Kereke said private public partnerships were essential in maintaining high standards of care in public institutions.

Dr Kereke said these partnerships would help to solve the current scenario where Government was failing to absorb trained nurses because of the freezing of posts by the Finance Ministry.

"We train more nurses but we do not have the vacancies," he said.

"The solution lies with Government working with private sector to create new medical centres where new jobs are created."

Dr Kereke said through the public private partnerships Government should consider offering incentives to private institutions by exempting them from paying taxes on medical equipment.

He said this would in turn see a reduction of cost of services, which have largely contributed to the exorbitant fees charged.

"The health sector has challenges but they are solvable if our policy makers get their priorities right," Dr Kereke said.

Since the 2008 economic downturn, the health sector is still faced with a lot of challenges ranging from obsolete equipment, lack of essential drugs, inadequate staff especially specialists and high cost of services.

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