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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

National Health Insurance Scheme on the cards

National Health Insurance Scheme on the cards

Story by Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

GOVERNMENT is set to establish a National Health Insurance Scheme as the country targets to achieve universal health access by 2030.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care convened a National Health Insurance Taskforce meeting in Harare this Friday to discuss the establishment of the National Health Insurance Scheme, which is expected to eliminate upfront payments at public health institutions.

The task force also explored funding options during its deliberations.

“This was a meeting to discuss the progress that has taken place in establishing the National Health Insurance. As you know, we are striving to say that by 2030 there should be universal access to health as a right. And we have identified a few hindrances to this and one of the major hindrances is about health financing. People have been paying a lot of money, a lot of people pay out of their pocket to finance their health needs. Medical aid covers only about 10%, 8% to 10% and government is supposed to meet the difference. We have issues like children under the age of 5 who are supposed to access free medical care in our public institutions.

We also have maternity issues, but we have seen the gap that at times we say it’s free, but it’s not free because somebody is supposed to pay for that. So our health institutions are suffering because that gap is not being adequately covered. So we came up with the idea of the National Health Insurance, which should then allow all Zimbabwean citizens to access medical services in our public institutions without the requirement for upfront payments. And that payment should then be met by the National Health Insurance, which is a fund which we are trying to see how it’s established,” said the Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr. Douglas Mombeshora.

He added, “Some of the main issues that we discussed here was to say, how do we build that fund? Where does the money come from? So there were quite a number of suggestions to say, certain taxes suggested to be collected at the point of service would be the easiest way rather than burdening citizens with taxes again from their earnings directly. So these are proposals that we are coming up with, and we’ll do stakeholder consultations also to hear what the public thinks. And then we will present that, hopefully, before the end of July, I should take it to Parliament.”

Health Service Commission Chairperson Dr Vincent Hungwe emphasised the urgency and commitment from government.

“The critical issue is the urgency, the commitment, and the existence of a very clearly defined roadmap with very clear results and outcomes that are expected by the new leadership, the leadership of the Second Republic. And the record would actually show where there is this kind of passion and commitment. Things have actually moved. It’s a changed environment, and this has been outstanding for too long, and the commitment on the part of government is there. It’s not in question,” he said.

The National Health Insurance Scheme aligns with Section 76 of the Constitution, guaranteeing basic healthcare access to all citizens and permanent residents.

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