• 7 Apr, 2024
  • United Zimbabwe Alliance

World Health Day

As we commemorate this day, we reflect on the profound significance of health in our lives. It is an inherent aspect that profoundly shapes our existence and is influenced by our lifestyles. Today prompts us to assess our nation's state of healthcare systems. While many countries celebrate advances in their healthcare systems, Zimbabwe's narrative is different. Here, health often feels like a gamble, with our healthcare infrastructure marred by inadequacies such as poor maintenance, insufficient medical supplies, staff shortages, and inadequate funding.

Our healthcare infrastructure has deteriorated significantly due to a lack of maintenance and improvement efforts. Instances of rainfall leaking into Parirenyatwa Hospital due to a damaged roof underscore the extent of neglect. Furthermore, due to the lack of bedding, in some cases patients are forced to sleep on the floor. The functionality of maternity heaters and intensive care units falls short of expectations, resulting in persistent high infant and maternal mortality rate. The hope that hospitals should inspire is absent in many public health facilities, with only a handful of private hospitals offering quality care—albeit beyond the financial reach of many Zimbabweans. Therefore, it's crucial to prioritize investment in healthcare infrastructure to guarantee access to quality healthcare for all citizens.

Inequality continues to be  a significant barrier to healthcare access in Zimbabwe. The government's failure to establish a universal public healthcare system has  created  a stark divide within our society, undermining the prospects of achieving health equity. In rural areas, access to healthcare is  hampered by challenges such as inadequate infrastructural development, long distances to healthcare facilities, and  shortage of medical personnel. In addition, financial constraints present a major obstacle, particularly  in accessing private medical care. The public healthcare scheme-PSMAS, intended to provide financial support to citizens, has been plagued by corruption, resulting in the redirection of medical services to the private sector. Combined with adverse economic conditions, health care has become a privilege afforded to a few, rather than a fundamental right accessible to all, as enshrined in our Constitution. Addressing these disparities necessitates systemic reforms and concerted efforts to ensure that healthcare is accessible and affordable for all Zimbabweans, regardless of their socio-economic status.

Zimbabwe's health system faces dire challenges, exacerbated by decades of economic mismanagement. The collapse of the healthcare sector has left hospitals without life-saving equipment and vital medicines, rendering them incapable of meeting the needs of patients in need. Medical supplies, including but not limited to surgical instruments, diagnostic equipment, medications, bandages, and personal protective equipment, are severely lacking in Zimbabwe's healthcare facilities. This shortage of medical supplies further compounds the already dire situation, and leaves healthcare providers ill-equipped to provide quality care to patients. Swift action and significant investment are essential to alleviate these critical shortages and enhance the health infrastructure, ensuring that all Zimbabweans have access to the medical supplies necessary for their health and well-being.

Government funding of our healthcare sector is a major setback, largely attributed to political mismanagement and misplaced priorities, that have led to the neglect of public hospitals. The budgetary allocation for the health sector has not been in line with the Abuja Declaration, which recommended governments to allocate at least 15% of their annual budgets to health. As a result , the health budget remains woefully inadequate to meet  the critical needs in the health sector, exacerbating challenges such as the current brain drain, medicine  shortages, inadequate ambulances, and obsolete equipment. This lack of funding severely impacts the quality and accessibility of health services, further deepening the crisis faced by Zimbabwe's healthcare system. It is imperative that we prioritize the health sector and allocate adequate resources to ensure access to quality healthcare for all citizens, in accordance with international standards and commitments. By doing so, taxpayer's money will be invested conscientiously in the well-being of the citizenry, particularly in the health sector.

On this World Health Day, the United Zimbabwe Alliance re-affirms its commitment to  comprehensive healthcare reform that prioritizes the well-being of all Zimbabweans. Let us recommit ourselves to addressing these disparities and ensuring that healthcare remains a fundamental right accessible to all Zimbabweans. It is imperative that the government takes decisive action to invest in health infrastructure, combat corruption, and prioritize the well-being of its citizens. Only through collective efforts can we build a healthier, more equitable future for all.