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ZCTU disputes Health Scheme funding mode

By Staff Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says the proposed National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) must be wholly funded by the government as opposed to subjecting citizens to yet another tax whip.

The National Health Insurance Scheme seeks to ensure that health services are accessible to all citizens in line with section 76 of the Constitution which stipulates that every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has the right to have access to basic healthcare services.

The debate on how to implement the scheme has raged on for over a decade following brave resistance by the ZCTU over the years which stood against the introduction of yet another tax measure.
At some point back in 2007 enactment of the National Health Insurance Bill were forcibly abandoned after the ZCTU threatened to mobilise demonstrations against the instrument which they believed to be an unnecessary burden.

However, the government recently resuscitated works around the NHIS in a development which has seen the consultations going on around the country.

But speaking to recently the ZCTU National Organiser, and Michael Kandukutu criticized the proposed scheme saying while the plans are noble on paper, such arrangements must be subject to wider consultations and robust debate for adequate checks and balances.

He proposed that the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has the responsibility to provide resources to social partners to enable them to undertake widespread consultations with their members.
“Countries like Ghana which have established the NHIS did so after a robust process led by highly grounded research data collected from all the stakeholders concerned. It becomes a challenge to milk the already overtaxed workers and citizens who are already reeling under severe hardships to fund the initiative,” he said.

The ZCTU contends that the NHIS can only be rubber stamped after a mechanism in crop in those who are in the informal sector has been crafted.

“Our view is that on sustainable financing, the NHIS should be wholly financed by the government .Employers must contribute a certain percentage towards workers compensation and we would like to propose that the percentage be split towards NHIS and work related injuries,” he said.

Kandukutu warned that the current process still leaves out stakeholders from consultations.
“Why has the government decided to make the collection of the Health Fund tax the prerogative of the Ministry of Health and Child Care, when we have a specialized institution like NSSA? Is it a National health Insurance Fund or fundraising gimmick by the government which is within the line of such taxes as the sugar tax? ,” he quizzed.

The labour union organizer is also gravely concerned that such an initiative may still do little to improve the country’s broken health care system considering that existing funds are being abused to the disadvantage of the sickly patients

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