The 67th session of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa conference has been officially opened in Victoria Falls with concerns that African countries have not been able to invest 15 percent of their national budget to the health sector.
President Robert Mugabe officially opened the conference saying there is a need for African countries to come up with new funding mechanisms which can bring about a turnaround in the health delivery sector in the continent.
The health delivery system continues to struggle in most African countries as governments struggle to raise adequate resources to fund the sector.
This is further worsened by the fact that direct investment in developing countries by partners is constrained, thus impacting on maternal deaths, tropical and non communicable diseases.
President Mugabe said Zimbabwe has made strides by coming up with sound funding mechanisms outside the national budget such as the AIDS levy to respond to the HIV epidemic and the health fund accumulated from levies charged on mobile phones.
“This fund has also formed a nucleus for addressing the increased cancer burden in the country. We have also begun from this current financial year set aside half of a ten cents levy that we charge on mobile airtime and data usage for use on procuring critical pharmaceutical and other commodities for our hospitals, outside the main budget provision,” said President Mugabe.
In light of the fact that Africa continues to experience an increase in morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and respiratory diseases, President Mugabe challenged African leaders to come up with solutions to reverse the disturbing trends.
“We know that historically, our formal health care systems were developed to respond to a few selected commonly occurring communicable diseases. But we have begun and must continue to evolve these systems, to respond to the broader health issues. We also understand that there are many determinants of health, many of which have to be addressed by taking the right supportive policies and interventions in non health sectors,” he added.
The health sector in African countries is also experiencing brain drain as the most qualified and experienced personnel are leaving for greener pastures in developed countries.
The 67th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa which runs until Friday, is being attended by 45 member states and development partners which include the African Union Commission Social Services.