Bikita West lawmaker Munyaradzi Kerereke told the House of Assembly on Thursday that the government should use the more than $150 million, which has been invested by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) on the money market, to improve health care services in Zimbabwe.
Contributing to debate on a motion by Health and Child Care shadow minister, Ruth Labode, for parliament to institute an inquiry into the state of the health sector, Kereke said the statutory corporate body tasked by the government to provide social security was raking in about $15 million a month, adding that the bulk of the money is invested in the money market.
NSSA collects monthly taxes in the form of AIDS levies from all working Zimbabweans.
Kereke, a former advisor to the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, suggested to the House of Assembly that the Ministry of Health and Child Care could use legal channels to access the funds and improve infrastructure and health care delivery services in the country.
He suggested many other solutions to improve health care in the country, among them involving communities in constructing clinics in their wards or constituencies.
He expressed concern over government’s lack of a clear strategy or institutional framework to deal with non-communicable diseases such as kidney ailments, cancer and diabetes.
Kereke said patients with kidney ailments go for therapy three times a week at a cost of $400, which is out of reach for many people resulting in many unnecessary or preventable deaths.
While moving a her motion, Labode said the situation in the country’s hospitals is characterized by dilapidated infrastructure, lack of medicine and equipment vehicles and demoralized staff, leading to poor service delivery.
Labode wants the government to come up with a scheme that ensures all citizens have access to health care services regardless of their economic status.
Some Zanu PF lawmakers who debated the motion like Joseph Chinotimba, Sarah Mahoka and Mandi Chimene said health service delivery had deteriorated due to economic sanctions imposed on Harare by the West.
Kereke supported them saying hospitals such as Chinhoyi could not get spare parts for equipment sourced from countries that have what he called “issues” with Zimbabwe.
He said sanctions must not be allowed to hurt the health sector.
MDC-T lawmaker, Gift Chimanikire said the health crisis needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency, adding it has become so serious with the head of state and top government officials seeking treatment in foreign countries.