Our healthcare needs urgent attention Mr President
By Dr Brighton Chireka
Mr President Mugabe, the 22nd of August 2013 went down in our history as the day you were inaugurated to lead Zimbabwe for another 5 years. Today it’s now almost three years and our health system is no better but worse. I am blamed for trying to compare the health system of our country with the best in the world. I still maintain that Zimbabweans are not second class citizens and deserve the best. In my appeal to you as the President of Zimbabwe , I have taken time to read your Manifesto on Health that you published in 2013. It will be my basis for discussion and assessment of what has been achieved so far .
ZANU PF 2013 Manifesto on health;
“An overaching goal of the people is the improvement of the health delivery system to attain health for all. This is particularly important in view of the numerous challenges facing Zimbabwe’s health sector such as shortage of skilled professionals and healthcare staff, an eroded infrastructure with ill-equiped hospitals or clinics and lack of critical medicines and commodities. As part of its policy of health for all, Zanu PF will address these challenges as a matter of top priority over the next five years.”
Health for all
This phrase “health for all ” is now a joke as no one is taking it seriously especially coming from politicians. We do not forget what you promised us. We know politicians have short memory and easily forget their promises. May I remind you that you promised us a ” health for all” by 2000 and it’s now 16 years past that target. To the majority of us it is now becoming like its a “death for all ”
What are the challenges as identified by your party ?
You rightly pointed out that there is a shortage of skilled professionals and healthcare staff. Before we even talk of increasing the numbers of health professionals we need to make sure that we are taking care of the few that we have. It is common knowledge that happy health professionals means happy patients. The health professionals will go an extra mile if there are well looked after. Mr President you have failed to look after our health professionals and we continue to witness strike after strike by our health professionals. You promised us that as part of health for all, your party will address these challenges as a matter of top priority over the next five years. Three years have already gone and the situation is now worse and sadly we are not seeing any prioritisation of our health system.
According to you , we have an eroded infrastructure with ill- equipped hospitals or clinics and you promised to address that as a top priority. Our hospitals are still struggling to get the basic equipment. We want our government hospitals to have fully functioning equipment that is of world class. We cannot in this day and age give relatives specimens to take to private hospitals just because our government hospitals do not have functioning facilities to carry out the tests. If this issue is a top priority then surely it should have been addressed by now.
Your Manifesto mentions the lack of critical medicines and commodities. Sadly the budget that you have been allocating to our ministry of health is a joke to say the least. If it was not for the donor community and dedicated hardworking health professionals , our health system would have ground to a halt. We are sick and tired of hearing the rhetoric about the impact of the so called sanctions against Zimbabwe. If we are to accept that argument , then how come we are receiving more money in donations than what your government is allocating to our ministry of health. It is reported that in 2014 the government of Zimbabwe only allocated one million for the management of malaria whilst donors paid over 17 million .
Mr President stop underfunding our ministry
You, Mr President and your government are putting ” sanctions ” on the Ministry of Health. Year after year the budget allocation keeps dwindling and the Ministry of health has never been given the largest budget it rightly deserves.
As a nation let us learn to reflect on the effects of our actions and also let us not take the citizens of Zimbabwe for granted. We need an open discussions about these issues. We need to hear the strategy that is in place to address these issues. We are sick and tired of blaming the west for our own failures.
The people of Zimbabwe are forgiving and will respect a government that admits it’s mistakes and takes quick action to go back on track . Sadly Mr President we hear of sanctions every day and you know what, I agree that these so called sanctions ( travel bans) should be removed with immediate effect. We cannot allow this to be an everyday excuse to cover up for the lack of leadership and corruption that is going on unabated.
I call for a new strategy to save our health system. This comes only if we have a committed leadership that value human life and is prepared to go an extra mile to make our health for all a reality. I do not care where that leadership comes from. What is important is that , the leadership must put its citizens at the heart of its decision making. That leadership must be prepared to serve the people and not focus of lining its pockets all the time.
Right to speak !
I thank you Mr President and I can reassure you that I wrote this article in my personal capacity as a concerned Zimbabwe. I am intelligent enough to know what I want as a citizen of Zimbabwe. This notion that anyone who criticise you is after regime change or want to topple you only shows how paranoid we have come as a people. Let us allow peaceful exchange of ideas and let us allow the bringing to account of the government of the day. That accountability is what I call for based on what you promised us. A promise is a credit and Mr President , you owe us a health for all !
This article was compiled by Dr Brighton Chireka, who is a GP and a Health Commissioner in South Kent Coast in the United Kingdom. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org and can read more of his work on his blog at DR CHIREKA’S BLOG
Disclaimer: Views expressed here are personal and do not in any way, shape or form represents the views of organisations that Dr Chireka work for or is associated with.