THE Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa, yesterday blasted Treasury for under funding the health sector, saying this has seriously compromised health service delivery at Government hospitals.
Dr Parirenyatwa visited Filabusi and Esigodini District Hospitals in Matabeleland South to assess the situation at the health institutions.
In 2015, Filabusi District Hospital received $36 000 from Treasury against a budget of $133 000 while in 2016 the hospital received only $16 000 instead of $80 000. The hospital is owed more than $71 000 by patients.
The Minister expressed disappointment over the perceived lack of commitment from Treasury to adequately fund hospitals.
“This is disappointing. Treasury must wake up and provide the required funds to keep the health sector on its feet. Any country is judged by its health system and poor health services expose the country.
“It’s depressing and really bad to look at the discrepancy on the required funds and what is released by the fiscus. Treasury needs to finance the health delivery system so that we have a workable environment for people working on the ground,” said Dr Parirenyatwa. User fees, he added, are far beyond the reach of many and it should be Treasury’s priority to fund the health sector and promote good health.
“We have a policy which stipulates that children aged five and below, as well as adults aged 65 years and above should be treated for free. But a lot more people in between can’t afford to pay for health services,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
He said it was sad that the work that is done by medical practitioners in the health sector was under estimated yet they work with strained budgets.
“The situation is not the best but people are still working. We under estimate what is happening at the hospitals. We’ve got the passion in our personnel and they’re are doing very well under difficult circumstances. Their efforts should be complimented by adequate funding and resources.
A lot of people think that there’s no work that is being done at the hospitals but these people are working hard,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
The Minister urged businesses, mining companies and medical insurance companies to provide funding for hospitals to be fully equipped so that they effectively provide health services. He said domestic funding was key to a vibrant health sector.
Dr Parirenyatwa commended members of staff at both hospitals for working hard to keep the hospitals up and running.
He challenged leaders in the province to source funding for a new hospital for the district and said the Government would provide some of the funds.
He said it was unfair for the hospital in Esigodini to be treated as a District Hospital.
“It’s a clinic that was simply converted into a hospital without upgrading it in terms of
infrastructure and equipment. The hospital therefore deserves to be elevated.
“I hope that the community will carry with me this burden of establishing a new, bigger hospital. The Government will assist but it’s the support from the community and the local business people that’s important,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
Authorities at the two hospitals said while funding was a major set back, they were also faced with the shortages of health workers, lack of accommodation and limited patients’ capacity to pay for services. herald