Put a hold on the National Health Insurance Scheme: Zimbabwean nurses

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“The passing on of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) bill recently has left questions hanging over our heads,” says the Simangaliso Mafa the president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA).

By Tafadzwa Chidoori

Mafa said this at the recently held 31st ZINA Annual General Meeting, where nurses gathered from across Zimbabwe to discuss on issues affecting nurses and the health sector in Zimbabwe.

ZINA is mainly concerned about the funding mechanism which is going to reduce the already low salaries of nurses.

“Civil servants in Zimbabwe are among the highly taxed in the world, and lowly paid. On top of this our salaries are way below the poverty datum line, but the government wants to add more taxation by including another deduction towards this noble scheme,” Mafa said.

Student nurses following proceedings at the 31st Zina Annual General Meeting

The NHIS comes at the heels of a National Road Fund which is also going to fleece on the working class.

The level of worker taxation in Zimbabwe is just but crazy.

“At the end of the day with all these levies being put in place what do you think the owner of the money is going to be left with?” asked the first male president of ZINA.

Currently Zimbabwe’s formal workplace is burdened with, PAYE, the Aids Levy, now the Road Accident Fund, NSSA, the one on fuel, Tollgates and will now be burdened by the Health Fund, and all those other numerous taxes like VAT on groceries.

“Yes it is a good idea to have a NHS, but the government must come up with some funding modalities not to over tax the already burdened civil servant,” he said.

At the rate the government is taxing employees it will confiscate 90% of his/her income.

“It will not be a surprise if the government will tax formal workers for the forthcoming elections,” said a concerned nurse.

To most of the nurses RI interviewed at the AGM, the NHS is a mockery to the health services in Zimbabwe where the government is pretending to care about the health of the nation, where as it is failing to provide basic medicine to the hospitals and many health systems are under capacitated and ill equipped to deal with a number of health issues.

Nurses at the Zina Annual General Meeting that was held at Rainbow Towers from 9-10 December, 2016

“This has resulted in top government officials to seek health services outside Zimbabwe, leaving many poor Zimbabweans to face the brunt of poor health facilities,” said a nurse who refused to be named.

The NHS and the Road Fund are coming at a time when other government initiated funds like the Zimdef Fund have been misappropriated to fund private political events at the detriment of the nation.

The NHS is going to be under the administration of the government pension fund NS SA. This comes as NSSA has recently been damned in a 2015 audit report by Deloitte Advisory Services.

“More so I don’t believe that our economy which is facing liquidity challenges and failing to fund critical social services is ready to add more burden like this scheme.

“This scheme needs a stable economy, unlike ours which is characterised by lack of Foreign Direct Investments, high unemployment rates, high deaths, poor funding to productive sector, liquidity crunch, budget deficits negative growth leading to the contraction of the economy,” said Mafa.

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