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Zimbabwe Per Capita Health Spending Well Below International Benchmark

Dr. Custodia Mandhlate, World Health Organization country representativ, says Zimbabwe has made strides in improving health care since 2008 when the system virtually collapsed as a cholera epidemic raged

Zimbabwean public health spending of some US$9 a person - US$20 per Zimbabwean if international donor funds are taken into account - remains well under the recommended level of US$34 per capita according to a recent government calculation.

This comes despite a significant allocation of US$63.4 million for the health sector by the Ministry of Finance this year and the creation of a $435 million dollar fund by international donors working with Zimabwe.

Based on World Health Organization recommendations and targets agreed in the African Union Abuja Declaration of 2001, African countries are urged to allocate 15 percent of government expenditure to providing health care to their populations.

The United Nations Children's Fund says it costs between US$10 and US$50 to deliver a baby in an urban public health facility. Consequently, percentage of deliveries attended by trained medical personnel has declined over the past 10 years.

Dr. Custodia Mandhlate, WHO country representive, said Zimbabwe has made great strides in health care since 2008 when the system virtually collapsed. She said that while spending is under recommended levels, allocations should rise next year.

Health activist Emmanuel Gasa said Harare must make health a top priority, adding that it seems at times that politics has taken priority over the needs of the people.