Health fund rakes in $22 million
HARARE – The health fund levy, which is a $0, 05 tax on every dollar of mobile phone airtime and data used, has accumulated to $22 million since it was introduced in February last year, a Cabinet Minister has said.
The levy is meant to lessen Zimbabwe’s dependence on donor funding for health services.
A shrinking tax base has constrained government’s capacity to invest in the public health delivery system, which is now highly dependent on resources from development partners.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said the money collected was already being used to purchase drugs and other consumables in the health sector.
“I am quite certain within the next few weeks, there will be a sizeable difference in terms of supply of medicines in our institutions. We are benefiting,” he said.
Collections from the levy are deposited directly into a special account held by the Ministry of Finance and then disbursed directly to that of Health.
Analysts contend that the existing funding situation for the health sector is not sustainable as development partners are also experiencing budget constraints, and a result have reduced their support.
The situation has also been compounded by medical practitioners who now demand cash payments before providing services, due to none or delayed remittances by medical aid companies.
Consequently, a large number of the population fails to access health services.
This year, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa had to increase the budget allocation to the Health Ministry from the initial $454 million to $520 million following an outcry from Members of Parliament.
The allocation is however still short of the provisions of the Abuja Declaration which stipulates that at least 15 percent of national budgets should go towards health service provision. – New Ziana