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(2009; 22 pages)
The Government of Zimbabwe desires to have the highest possible level of health and quality of life for all its citizens, attained through the combined efforts of individuals, communities, organizations and the government, which will allow them to participate fully in the socioeconomic development of the country.
This vision will be attained through guaranteeing every Zimbabwean access to comprehensive and effective health services. Extending from this vision, the mission of the Ministry of Health & Child Welfare (MoHCW) is to provide, administer, coordinate, promote and advocate for the provision of equitable, appropriate, accessible, affordable and acceptable quality health services and care to Zimbabweans while maximizing the use of available resources, in line with the Primary Health Care Approach. As part of its mandate to give strategic direction in health sector development, the MoHCW has developed this National Health Strategy, 2009 – 2013, “Equity and Quality in Health - A People's Right”. This document is a successor to the National Health Strategy, 1997 – 2007 “Working for Quality and Equity in Health”, whose major thrust was to improve the quality of life of Zimbabweans and set the agenda for launching the health sector into the new millennium. Recognizing that improvement in the health status of the population would not depend on health sectoral actions alone, the 1997 National Health Strategy sought to pull together all national efforts which had potential to enhance health development into a promising new era.
Whilst the situation analysis carried out at that time showed a worrying decline in health status indicators,the optimism associated with the dawn of a new era provided hope and conviction for improvement.
Similarly, the identified weaknesses in the performance of the health system were thought to be temporary,in the hope that the holding capacity of the economy to support a robust health system would improve.
On the contrary: the challenges facing the health sector continued and in fact got worse. During the second half of the implementation period of the National Health Strategy (1997 – 2007), Zimbabwe experienced severe and escalating economic challenges which peaked in the year 2008. The economic decline resulted in a sharp decrease in funding for social services in real terms. This directly contributed to an unprecedented deterioration of health infrastructure, loss of experienced health professionals, drug shortages and a drastic decline in the quality of health services available for the population.
The main thrusts of the 2009-2013 National Health Strategy are therefore firstly to provide a framework for immediate resuscitation of the health sector (Health System Strengthening), and secondly, to put Zimbabwe back on track towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
The strategy is based on information from several studies carried out in the last three years (Study on Access to Health Services; Vital Medicines and Health Services Survey; Community Working Group On Health surveys; Zimbabwe Maternal and Perinatal Mortality Survey etc), existing national plans and programmes as well as existing programme specific policy and strategic documents. However it does not cover all details from such policy and strategic documents. Furthermore the strategy has taken into consideration regional and international policies, strategies and commitments made by the country such as the Millennium Development Goals, the Ouagadougou Declaration on Primary Health Care and Health Systems in Africa, as well as other international, continental and regional health protocols including the African Union (AU) Health Plan; the East, Central and Southern Africa (ECSA) Health Community Agreements, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Health Sector Protocol.