Cabinet approves National Health Insurance Scheme

Health and Child Care Permanent Secretary Dr Jasper Chimedza says Cabinet has approved principles for the development of the National Health Insurance Scheme in an effort to make universal health coverage a reality. Speaking while giving oral evidence on the Ministry’s 2021 first quarter Budget Performance Report, Dr Chimedza said the crafting of the Bill is at an advanced stage.
The National Health Insurance Scheme seeks to ensure that health services are accessible to all citizens, pursuant to section 76 of the Constitution, which stipulates that: “Every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has the right to have access to basic healthcare services.” Statistics by the Global Press Journal indicate that only 10% of Zimbabweans are on medical aid, leaving the 90% without any medical cover exposed to “out of pocket expenditure” payments for health.

To ensure universal access to health, the Ministry also developed the National Health Strategy (NHS), which outlines the roadmap towards turning around and restoring stability in the country’s health system. The NHS speaks to ten strategic focus areas in line with NDS1 to address gaps within the health system. Some of the strategic focus areas include increasing domestic funding for health, to meet the provisions of the Abuja Declaration, which state that 15% of the national budget must be allocated to the health sector. The focus areas also include improving the health sector human resources performance. In addition, the Ministry also expressed its commitment to advancing the availability of essential medicines and enhancing health infrastructure and medical equipment for better health service delivery.

The Health and Child Care Ministry is one of the Ministries that have so far managed to present its 2021 first quarter Budget Performance Report to Parliament. In the past, most Ministries have failed to comply with the provisions of Public Finance Management Act which compel them to submit monthly, quarterly, and annual reports to the legislature. This stems from Section 299 of the Constitution which obliges Parliament to monitor and oversee expenditure by all state institutions to ensure that all revenue is accounted for, all expenditure has been properly incurred and any limits and conditions on appropriations have been observed.

In 2016, Parliament, with assistance from SAPST developed quarterly budget performance reporting guidelines that focus on the entire public resource management system of the State. The guidelines emanate from the Public Service Accountability Monitoring (PSAM) rights-based approach on social accountability monitoring framework. Ministries have adopted this guide in reporting to Parliament.