The Sunday News
ACCORDING to the World Health Organisation (WHO), governments, through ministries of health and other related ministries and agencies, play an important role in health development, through strengthening health systems and generation of human, financial and other resources.
This allows health systems to achieve their goals of improving health, reducing health inequalities, securing equity in health care financing and responding to population needs. Improved health outcomes are not attributable to health systems alone, as evidence has shown, but to social, economic, cultural and environmental determinants also, as reflected in the WHO conceptual framework of Health For All.
The role of governments in health development is well documented worldwide and is illustrated by the impressive growth of health systems, initiated and supported by governments and pursued through partnership with the private sector, non-governmental organisations and charitable institutions. Governments, which levy taxes and benefit from natural resources, have social obligations to provide security and to facilitate socioeconomic development, including education and health development.
The Government of Zimbabwe has been doing just that, ensuring that locals have access to health care facilities, and that has been underscored by the impressive response by Government to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic. There has been remarkable improvement in health infrastructure in the country and in the Matabeleland region in particular, which speaks to the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1). Under NDS1, the building of world class infrastructure and provision of key social services have been identified as key enablers for sustainable socio-economic development.
The accelerated upgrade of the public health system has seen older hospitals refurbished, new wards opened and new equipment bought. Major hospitals in the region like Mpilo Central Hospital, United Bulawayo Hospitals and Lupane hospital, among others, have received serious attention from government which has poured in a lot of resources to improve the facilities.
Serge Mandiefe Piabuo and Julius Chupezi Tieguhong add that health is an important determinant of economic development; a healthy population means higher productivity, thus higher income per head. The importance of human capital to economic growth cannot be over emphasised because it serves as a catalyst to economic development.
The contribution of health expenditure on economic development emanates from the health led growth hypothesis.
It considers health to be capital; therefore investments on health can lead to an increase in labour productivity, thus increase in incomes and subsequent increase in the well-being of the population. Bloom and Canning, highlight that when labour is healthy, their incentive to develop new skills and knowledge is higher because they expect to enjoy long term benefits.
The effort to improve the health care sector is one of the key mechanisms that show the commitment and political will of the Second Republic and the ability to translate these commitments into results. All the activities in the health sector are in line with the vision of the Second Republic under the leadership of President Mnangagwa, to undertake a massive infrastructure development and social investment programmes aimed at transforming Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income society by 2030.