Open letter to VP Chiwenga the Minister of Health and Child Care
Dear VP Chiwenga
It is with a heavy heart that I pen this letter your esteemed office. I have tried several times through your PA to get an appointment to meet with you and discuss the debilitating state of our public health institutions in Zimbabwe. Considering how Zimbabweans danced, ululated and praised you during the restore legacy era, you have been a great disappointment to their expectations especially in the healthcare delivery sector which you are also the Minister.
Government has failed to ensure people’s right to access to affordable, quality and basic health care in government hospitals. Most if not all public hospitals lack basic antibiotics, painkillers and chronic diseases medication.
Considering that the Ministry of Health gets at least 15% of the national budget, it is perplexing how the ministry of health has continuously failed to provide quality healthcare to the people of Zimbabwe.
It is time that the budget allocation for the Ministry of Health works to revive the ailing health sector and to have audited statements of the same funds availed publicly for people to see how the funds are used.
A life lost can never be reincarnated, sadly our people are dying prematurely every day because government hospitals which should provide healthcare for all is failing to do so yet we have a whole ministry with a constitutional mandate to ensure that the right to healthcare is upheld in this country.
Basic health care is now a luxury and privy to an elite few yet it is a basic right as promulgated in the Bill of rights of the supreme law of the land.
For a country with nearly a quarter of the population suffering from chronic diseases priority, Mr VP and Minister of Health should be allocation of funds to acquire state of the art machinery for public hospitals like CT scans, radiotherapy machines for cancer patients, dialysis machines, etc for all the referral public hospitals in Zimbabwe and to fulfill your parties campaign manifesto of having a government hospital in all the districts of Zimbabwe by 2023.
During the 2018 campaigns, your party which is ruling the government pledged to;
• ensure that treasury allocates at least 15% of the National budget to the healthcare sector in line with the Abuja declaration (this is the only thing you managed to fulfill)
• support operational research by targeting possible solutions to non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
• review remuneration structure for medical professionals
• invest in new healthcare facilities in order to ensure access by all to health services particularly in rural and resettlement areas
• resuscitate the country’s pharmaceutical industry to increase the availability of drugs at affordable prices
• develop and implement a health services manpower skills development plan and build specialized high-tech health facilities in order to become a sub-regional health tourism hub
• support training of our medical professionals in advanced medical techniques and procedures in India, China. Cuba and Russia among others. This will benefit many Zimbabweans who cannot afford to travel aboard to seek specialized medical care
• establish at least one new hospital per administrative district by 2023
• ensure proper coordination of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health programs through a new heath strategy and
• promote universal health coverage.
Of all these VP and Minister Chiwenga you only achieved one and it is mind boggling how you are failing to restore legacy in the health sector. Health is a fundamental human right which your ministry is denying millions of Zimbabweans.
My fellow countrymen can’t afford to get treated in private hospitals which are very exorbitant in healthcare fees. Public hospitals are ill-equipped to cater for ordinary Zimbabweans and maternal mortality is increasing. I am sure you want to leave a positive legacy and that legacy can only be one of the man who revived healthcare in Zimbabwe and put a smile on people’s faces.
We can’t continue to put lipstick on pigs whilst pretending that everything is under control. Nothing is under control. People are suffering, people are struggling and people are dying.
I implore you Soko, to do the right thing to commit to save Zimbabweans from doom. There is nothing impossible under the sun. Impossibility is just in the mind. We all just need to walk into a government hospital and get treated by happy, well remunerated nurses and doctors who have medicines in their pharmacies and everything that is needed for a hospital to fully function. We have many organic intellectuals in this country who can help revamp the health sector with ideas, resources and expertise.
Lastly, I recommend that you make sincere efforts to reform and manage the health sector to effectively and efficiently deliver comprehensive, quality health services that are equitable, accessible, affordable and sustainable for all the people in Zimbabwe. I also pray that your ministry fulfills the National health strategy plan in the NDS documents and works tirelessly to deliver world class standard quality healthcare to all Zimbabweans regardless of class. A healthy nation is a productive nation.
In anticipation of a favourable response, I remain;
Linda Tsungirirai Masarira