Strengthen our health delivery system

It is not funny when we advocate decent medical services in our country as the health service calamity can befall anyone who is a citizen of our nation.

SOCIAL media was recently abuzz with condolences of the late Mutare-based medical doctor, Mthabisi  Nembaware and Masvingo-based artiste, Garry Mapanzure.

Both were victims of road traffic accidents in the provincial capitals where health facilities are expected to be modern and able to offer advanced health care.

It is very easy to lose lives in this world and failure to upgrade health facilities is merely shooting ourselves in the foot.

The fallen comrades should, however, rest in peace.

Had both of them managed to receive emergency medical services, probably they could be breathing today.

It is not funny when we advocate decent medical services in our country as the health service calamity can befall anyone who is a citizen of our nation.

One of the 1978 Almer Ater Declarations is that health is a fundamental human right which should never be breached.

No country should boast of a sound health delivery system without a strong primary healthcare ecosystem.

Questions still linger in my head as to why our health system continues to nose-dive despite a long list of office bearers who report for duty on a daily basis.

We have many directors who enjoy huge perks, provincial medical directors, district medical officers who are physically on the ground, alas, our health delivery system is on a downward trend.

The poignant state of public healthcare facilities should be condemned as hospitals should not be death hubs.

The level of understaffing is disheartening, staff motivation is at its lowest, while the unabated brain drain continues to threaten the viability of the already strained health delivery system.

Is it that we have sedulous and godawful office bearers and is it not time to consider meritocracy at the expense of favouritism, nepotism and patronage?

In  2007, the World Health Organisation came up with six building blocks for a sound health delivery system.

Health service delivery, health workforce, financing, leadership, drugs and medicines and information systems are all critical components that should remain standing if any nation is to have a sound health delivery system.

The challenges we face as Zimbabwe can still be traced to the six building blocks and chief among them are the demotivated health workforce and poor health financing.

Zimbabwe continues to lose critical staff for greener pastures with more than 5 000 healthcare workers having strolled away in the last 18 months.

Worker retention strategies should be implemented for the betterment of the nation’s health delivery system which is on the verge of collapse.

Where will we be as a country in the next three years if the brain drain continues at this alarming rate?

Health financing should be increased significantly if we are to be somewhere as a country.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube should know that the 2023 budget of 11,2% of the fiscus is not enough to cover the basic tenets of health service delivery.

This is against the Abuja Declaration of 2001 that stipulates that at least 15% of the national budget should go towards supporting the healthcare system.

Health financing should, therefore, be improved. It is not pleasing to note that many public hospitals are short of basic sundries like gloves, syringes, suture material, cannula, fluid giving sets, catheters among many others.

I was at Norton Hospital at one time with a relative who required admission.

The hospital was in a sorry state and I had to dash to one of the nearby pharmacies to buy syringes and gloves.

Many other patients were tasked to purchase the requested sundries on their own, a development which is not only time-wasting, but also retrogressive.

With public health matters taking a toll on many people in the country, primary health care should be strengthened in the country.

Theatres should be well-equipped as well as public pharmacies that should at least have basic life-saving drugs.

Let the country move in the right direction for the betterment of everyone.

Let unity of purpose prevail as the country is in the midst of National Development Strategy 1, which runs from 2021 to 2025.

A good political will is all what is required to achieve Vision 2030.

  •  Johannes Marisa is president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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