AFRICAN GOVTS NEGLECTING HEALTH SERVICES, SAYS MUGABE | President Mugabe has said African governments need to collaborate in finding solutions to the continent’s common and emerging health challenges, as only a few countries are managing to invest the recommended 15 percent of their national budgets towards the health sector.


Officially opening the 67th edition of the World Health Organisation (WHO) regional committee for Africa which started here yesterday, President Mugabe said formal healthcare systems were initially developed to respond to a few selected commonly-occurring communicable diseases.

He said non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, infectious diseases, including HIV and Aids, had become pervasive. “We value the coming together of Ministers of Health from the African region to put their heads together and collectively interrogate the various health issues that affect our populations,” said President Mugabe.

“Let us, therefore, push health to take its deserved prominence on our agendas in our sub-regional groupings, at the African Union level and indeed on the global forum.”

Mugabe bemoaned the failure by most governments on the continent to allocate at least 15 percent of their national budgets to their respective health sectors — as dictated by the Abuja Declaration — especially when funding from development partners was declining.
AU member States, who gathered in Abuja, Nigeria in April 2001 set a target of allocating at least 15 percent of their annual budget to improve the health sector.

Government, which is struggling to raise domestic funding for capital projects, is burdened by other competing priorities. “Financing for health, thus, remains challenged,” said President Mugabe. “We need to further innovate around how we finance health, and how we efficiently and sustainably invest such financing.”

President Mugabe noted that the National Aids Trust Fund, commonly referred to as the Aids Levy, and the recently introduced Mobile Airtime Levy, were health financing innovations helping fund some critical areas in the health sector such as HIV and Aids.