By Byron Mutingwende
A vibrant health system characterised by proper nutrition, antenatal care and vaccination will decongest hospitals and stimulate economic growth, it has been established.
David Okello, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Director for Zimbabwe made the remarks on the launch of the National Health Strategy held at Murewa District Hospital on Wednesday.
“There is a low occupancy ratio at this hospital. One may wonder why that is so. The answer is that with proper antenatal care, nutrition and vaccination, hospitals will be decongested. Thus, the prevention of diseases is very important,” Okello said.
The government, through the ministry of health, launched the national Health Strategy for 2016-2020 (NHS 2016-2020) in response to the burden of disease, and to strengthen national health systems. The strategy was launched alongside two supporting documents, the Essential Health Benefits Package, and the World Health Organisation Country Cooperation Strategy.
Speaking on the occasion, Bishow Parajuli, the United Nations Resident Coordinator said that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals were a testimony that all UN member states had agreed to try to achieve universal coverage by 2030.
Universal health coverage could be achieved through financial risk protection, access to quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
The NHS focuses on four major priorities: communicable diseases; non-communicable diseases; reproductive and maternal health; public health surveillance and disaster preparedness and response.
These priorities are aimed at reducing maternal, new born and child mortality; decreasing HIV infections and increasing the number of HIV positive patients of ART; and strengthening environmental health service and early detection of disease outbreaks.
“The strategy builds on the gains achieved in the health sector over the last five years. As we have noted from both the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey and the Demographic and Health Survey, child and maternal mortality have been in decline in the last few years. We in the UN family remain committed to coordinating and harmonising our support to the Government in line with our commitments to Delivering-as-One,” Parajuli said.
The strategy was launched at a time when the government was implementing the Programme Based Budgeting system in an effort to maximise the performance of the health systems within a reduced fiscal space. The Essential Benefits Package will assist in concentrating limited resources on interventions that provide the best value for money.
David Parirenyatwa, the minister of health and childcare said that there was a need for home-grown solutions to fund the health care.