By Desire Tshuma
The Community Working Group (CWG) today commemorated this year’s World Health Day and called on government to ensure that health services are available, accessible and affordable to all citizens in the country.
This year’s theme ‘Health for All’ resonates well with the growing global call for the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) which seeks to ensure that people have access to the health care they need need without suffering financial hindrances.
“For Universal Health Care and the empowerment upper middle-income economy goals to be achieved, a lot more needs to be done to ensure domestic resources are identified and ring-fenced for health. The prevailing macro economic situation has impacted negatively on the health sector in a variety of ways, especially in reduced access to health care services by the general population in both the public and private sectors,” said Itai Rusike, (pictured) the Executive Director of the Community Working Group on Health.
He said closures of hospitals, downsizing and redirecting of services as a control measure during prolonged lockdowns and even in the aftermath of the moment of restrictions did not result in resumption of services to a pre pandemic level.
Zimbabwe suffers from inadequate public infrastructure and ill equipped hospitals and many patients have to travel long distances to access primary and other health care facilities which do not have adequate medicines and equipment.
Despite the free health care policy most of the times the selected vulnerable groups still buy their own medication due to non-availability in both rural and urban public health facilities.
Emergency medical services in Zimbabwe remain relatively under developed and under resourced. The majority of the country’s 57 districts have just two or less ambulances that serve 20 – 50 clinics per district.The situation is worse in most of the resettlement areas where communities still walk long distances to access the nearest health centers.
Meanwhile the country is experiencing rising incidences and burden of non-communicable diseases and conditions.
“Rapid unplanned, unregulated urbanization and changes in life style as people migrate from rural to urban causes an increase in the risk factors that cause non communicable diseases (NCDs) and conditions such as injuries, disability and substance abuse ” added Rusike.
The prevalence of hypertension is estimated at about 30% of the total population which is higher than HIV, TB and Sugar Diabetes.
Rusike said the country needs to address the burden of non- communicable diseases which constitute an integral part to achieve SDG 3 Good Health Well Being. The country is also facing the highest burden of cancer whose treatment is very costly and may people cannot afford the costs.