Takunda Maodza in Montevideo, URUGUAY
GOVERNMENT will now use resources mobilised through the Aids levy to fight the cancer scourge that continues to ravage society.
It is estimated that 7 000 Zimbabweans are diagnosed of cancer every year.
Speaking at the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Conference on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) underway here yesterday, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said Zimbabwe was putting in place measures to fight NCDs like cancer and diabetes.
Dr Parirenyatwa is accompanying President Mugabe. Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Walter Mzembi is also attending the conference.
“What we have been able to do is to put up a levy, an Aids levy, where we take three percent of the taxable income of every worker. We put it into an Aids levy, but we know that Aids is very related now to cancers so we are now using that Aids levy also for cancers, especially for drug treatment and diagnostics,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
The Aids Levy was introduced by Government in 2000 to provide financial support for key HIV and Aids intervention programmes.
The levy was further aimed at funding the National Aids Council secretariat functions and complementing donor funding on the fight against HIV and Aids.
Dr Parirenyatwa said the country has also put in place a Health Fund to help mobilise resources to fight NCDs.
“But we have also gone further to put up a health fund where we take 0,5 percent of all the airtime and we are encouraging people to make calls because we are getting money from that, and we are putting that money into our non-communicable diseases, among other areas,” he said.
“I am going to make sure that people now know what are NCDs in the communities and put an agenda of prevention. Anything we do, whether it is HIV, cancer or diabetes, prevention must come top. Prevention will be a big agenda. We must look at the challenges that we have and put up pooled funding, political awareness and political commitment.”
Dr Parirenyatwa told delegates that he was going to brief Cabinet and Parliament on lessons learnt at the conference on fighting NCDs.
The Health Fund or levy was introduced by then Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa when he presented the 2017 National Budget and took effect in January this year.
The health sector welcomed the health levy when it was introduced, saying it was going to reduce Government’s dependence on donors whose aid comes with conditions.
It is also hoped that the Health Fund would equip the health sector with necessary resources to ease access to services by the public.
Article Source: The Chronicle