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Health budget allocation shrinks amid cholera crisis



THE Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) has bemoaned thr]e government’s failure to allocate the health sector adequate funding in line with regional and international agreements.


Founded in 1998, the CWGH is a network of civic community-based organisations focused on championing health issues of common concern.

There are approximately 35 organisations in the CWGH.

In a statement released in the aftermath of the 2024 National Budget presentation, CGWH executive director Itai Rusike (pictured) said the decline from 11.2% in 2023 to 10.8% in 2024 derails Zimbabwe’s determination to reach the Abuja Declaration target.

“Government spending on health and child care as a percentage of total public expenditure is projected to decline from 11.2% in 2023 to the projected 10.8% in 2024. Health spending as a share of total government expenditure is an indicator of the priority given to health. The Abuja Target remains an elusive target for the country, ” said Rusike.

“Vote allocations still remain below regional and global benchmarks. Health got ZW$6.3 trillion (10.8%), a decline from the 11.2% allocated in 2023, below the Abuja Declaration target of 15%.”

In 2001, the African Union (AU) member states signed the Abuja Declaration, pledging to allocate at least 15% of their national budgets each year to improving healthcare systems. To this day, fulfilling this pledge has been a struggle for Zimbabwe and fellow Southern African Development Community member states.

Zimbabwe is grappling with a growing threat of cholera that has affected over a thousand people across the country just as it is coming out hard on the heels of the Covid-19 pandemic that was almost sounding a death knell for the country’s public healthcare system.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube afforded water and sanitation and hygiene (WASH) just 0.4%, another breach of the eThekwini Declaration that sets the standard benchmark at 1.5%.
Rusike says Zimbabwe needs more resources towards WASH now more than at any other time.

“The country is also in the midst of a cholera outbreak and addressing this requires significant public investments in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Government has allocated ZW$608.3 billion towards WASH which represents just 0.4% of GDP, which is way below the 1.5% of GDP benchmark set under the eThekwini Declaration (2008),” he said.

Zimbabwe has been perennially affected by cholera outbreaks since 2008 which claimed more than 400 lives.

Rusike urged the government to consider access to healthcare for low-income households as a stride towards universal health coverage.

“Increasing health expenditure in tandem with the increased population, disease burden and new national development goals remain a challenge to the health sector.

Similarly, the sector is confronted with ensuring that the poor people and the vulnerable who include women, newborn babies, children and adolescents are also able to afford quality health services. No country can make significant progress towards universal health coverage (UHC) without relying on a dominant share of public funds,” Rusike said.

He called on Finance minister Ncube and the government to improve resources channelled towards health.

“It is therefore critically important to ensure that the health system is adequately resourced and that resources are efficiently and optimally utilised.

“The current health financing model remains unsustainable as it heavily relies on external financing as well as out-of-pocket financing,” said Rusike.

“In nominal terms the health budget appropriation has declined from 11.2% in 2023 to the protected 10.8% in 2024. This is grossly inadequate to fund the critical needs in the health sector.”

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