The COVID-19 pandemic, despite its negative impact to the economy, has enabled Zimbabwe to make significant improvements to its health sector, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube said on Wednesday.
He said the government redirected resources from other planned expenditures in the 2020 national budget to cater for the country’s response to the pandemic.
The country also received financial and material support from foreign governments and development partners towards the fight against the pandemic, the Minister said.
“In Zimbabwe alone, we hired 4,700 new health care workers, purchased world-class equipment and upgraded health care facilities all around the country,” he said in his virtual address to the 26th intergovernmental committee of senior officials and experts of southern Africa meeting being held in Lesotho.
He said the pandemic forced government, the private sector and development partners to come together and increase investment in the health sector through rehabilitation of buildings and equipment, acquisition of new machinery and the hiring of additional health personnel.
The Minister said the pandemic brought a huge toll on the country’s economy, which is now expected to contract by 4.5 percent this year. To mitigate the economic difficulties brought by the pandemic, government put in place a stimulus package amounting to nine percent of Gross Domestic Product to rescue affected sectors of the economy and cushion vulnerable members of the population.
“The government instituted cuts on line Ministries allocations/budgets and redirected capital expenditure allocations under the 2020 national budget towards health-related expenditures, including water supply and sanitation programmes to fight the pandemic”.
Zimbabwe, which has now reopened its economy after shutting it down in March due to the pandemic, has recorded 8,315 cases, 7,804 recoveries and 242 deaths as of Tuesday, October 28.