Health scheme ap­proved All sec­tions of the com­mu­nity to be con­sid­ered

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Felex Share Harare Bureau

CAB­I­NET has ap­proved the set­ting up of a National Health In­sur­ance Scheme that will see the ma­jor­ity of Zim­bab­weans ac­cess­ing univer­sal health care.

All sec­tions of the com­mu­nity in­clud­ing those in the in­for­mal sec­tor and farm­ers will be con­sid­ered as Gov­ern­ment moves to en­sure all cit­i­zens have ac­cess to health care cover.

The move to es­tab­lish such a scheme ben­e­fit­ting ev­ery­one came af­ter the re­al­i­sa­tion that only 10 per­cent of Zim­bab­weans are cov­ered by med­i­cal aid so­ci­eties.

Draft­ing for the NHIS Bill has since com­menced fol­low­ing the ap­proval of prin­ci­ples pre­sented to Cab­i­net by Pub­lic Ser­vice, Labour and So­cial Ser­vice Min­is­ter Prisca Mup­fu­mira and sup­ported by her Health and Child Care coun­ter­part Dr David Parireny­atwa.

Min­is­ter Mup­fu­mira yes­ter­day said Cab­i­net had rec­om­mended that the National So­cial Se­cu­rity Au­thor­ity ad­min­is­ters the scheme. Work­ers will be taxed to finance the scheme. “Cab­i­net ap­proved the draft­ing of a univer­sal National Health In­sur­ance Scheme Bill which is in­tended to mit­i­gate cur­rent woes be­dev­il­ing the med­i­cal aid schemes,” Min­is­ter Mup­fu­mira said.

“The ob­jec­tives of the scheme are to ex­tend health care cov­er­age to all Zim­bab­weans as the cur­rent pri­vate med­i­cal aid schemes only cover 10 per­cent of the for­mally em­ployed cit­i­zens. The scheme also seeks to re­dress in­equities in cov­er­age. The in­for­mal sec­tor will for the first time be recog­nised un­der this mas­sive quasi-Gov­ern­ment in­sti­tute.”

The scheme was mooted in 2007 but was shot down by work­ers and par­lia­ment.

They ar­gued it would fur­ther strain over­taxed work­ers since the ini­tial pro­posal was to tax work­ers five per­cent.

Min­is­ter Mup­fu­mira said NHIS would usher in a new era of trans­parency in the fi­nanc­ing of health care.

“Cur­rently, the health care stan­dards are de­plorable due to mis­man­aged vol­un­tary med­i­cal in­sur­ance schemes tra­di­tion­ally ben­e­fit­ting work­ers in for­mal employment only.”

“Gov­ern­ment de­lib­er­ately pur­sued the idea of a univer­sal health in­sur­ance af­ter con­duct­ing a se­ries of study vis­its and nu­mer­ous con­sul­ta­tions which added value to the pro­posed prin­ci­ples. The main drive and ra­tionale for the national health scheme is that re­sources for health ser­vices are be­ing grossly over-stretched. In most in­stances, Gov­ern­ment is left to pro­vide free health for more peo­ple while the fi­nanc­ing base is too small to sup­port such a sys­tem. This is re­sult­ing in the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in qual­ity of ser­vice and poor staff morale.”

She went on: “Cab­i­net rec­om­mended NSSA for ad­min­is­tra­tion of the scheme as it re­mains the most re­silient in­sur­ance and pen­sion agency. A National Health In­sur­ance Scheme which is within the frame­work of so­cial se­cu­rity will not only en­sure the fi­nanc­ing as­pect of health ser­vices but is also a so­cial pro­gramme that leg­isla­tively grants in­di­vid­u­als the right to health ser­vices.”

She said fur­ther in­vest­ments in the health sec­tor were needed if Gov­ern­ment’s tar­get of “a clinic within eight kilo­me­tres for all” was to be met.

“The pool­ing of re­sources in a national scheme gives an op­por­tu­nity for in­vest­ment in health pro­vi­sion. There are in­equal­i­ties in ac­ces­si­bil­ity be­tween the ‘rich’ who en­joy so­phis­ti­cated lev­els of ser­vices, largely fi­nanced through med­i­cal aid so­ci­eties and the ‘poor’ who re­ceive the ba­sic ser­vices. The ra­tionale of a National Health In­sur­ance Scheme is the risk shar­ing amongst all mem­bers of the scheme and re­dress of the im­bal­ances and in­equal­i­ties in the pro­vi­sion of health. There is need to bring in new sources of fi­nanc­ing and to re­con­sider how the lim­ited funds avail­able can be ef­fec­tively ra­tioned to meet the Gov­ern­ments’ over­all health and eq­uity ob­jec­tives. The pool­ing of re­sources would fa­cil­i­tate meet­ing the ob­jec­tive, while at the same time a fund is cre­ated which is clearly ear­marked for health pur­poses and is in­de­pen­dent of the pres­sures on the gen­eral Gov­ern­ment bud­get.”

Other coun­tries like South Africa and Tan­za­nia have al­ready adopted such a scheme.

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