Separate COVID-19 funds from Ministry of Health budget

Separate COVID-19 funds from Ministry of Health budget
Separate COVID-19 funds from Ministry of Health budget

Health and Child Care Portfolio Committee Chairperson Ruth Labode has urged ministry of finance to separate funds earmarked for COVID-19 response from the rest of the Ministry of Health budget.

Labode who is a medical practitioner by practice, said separating the funds would prevent issues of diverting funds.

She also called for an increase in the health budget arguing that the country is facing a crisis due to COVID-19.

‘’I am very disappointed. This ZW$117bn leaves a gap of ZW$104bn from the bid the Ministry put forward. You remember in your statement, you implied that you have allocated 14.9% of the Budget to the Ministry, which was not true.

‘’It is very important for you to ring-fence the COVID, ZW$7bn separate from the Ministry of Health because COVID is reflected as a pandemic. We do not know whether we are controlling it. It would be nice for us not to end up diverting funds.

‘’We need to increase the budget; we cannot have such a huge funding gap just after coming out of COVID. People are sick and the hospitals are down; that $117bn does not work,’’ she said

In his response, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said the funds are adequate, as COVID-19 is being responded to not from the Ministry of Health alone but from the entire government.  

He said what has been allocated through the ministry of health is not the entire fund.

‘’What I am trying to say here is that the response to COVID is not just through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, it is through an entire government approach. You will find, therefore, issues pertaining to the COVID response sitting in other ministries as well and these are coordinated by this Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID.

‘’So, the budget we had before you only pertain to the Ministry of Health’s sole contribution to the COVID response effort and not for instance the Budget; the budget that pertains to the police that had to enforce roadblocks for example or indeed, the acquisition of PPEs or the oxygen plant that I referred to earlier.

‘’So, I believe that this Budget is really adequate in terms of responding to the challenges at hand and as I say, we always stand ready to top up,’’ he said.

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