Inclusive National Health Insurance welcome: NCDs sector players


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Writes Jacob Ngwenya

People living with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) have commended the Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Health and Child Care for initiating the process of establishing the National Health Insurance which comes on the backdrop of the country committing to the United Nations General Assembly Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage in 2019 and 2023.

This is a follow-up to Sustainable Development Goal Target 3.8 which aims to have everyone, everywhere, access the highest possible standard of health care services they need without suffering any financial hardships. Universal health coverage (UHC) calls for health for all, leaving no one behind regardless of their financial standing.

There is no UHC that can be attained if NCDs are left behind in the whole process. Inclusive national health insurance leads to the alignment of national laws and policies with investment in health. This process needs the engagement of people with healthy lived experiences that include persons with disabilities alongside people living with NCDs and HIV to ensure their input is captured in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of the whole process, bearing in mind that no amount of technical expertise can replace lived experience.

According to Zim-Stats, about 90% of the Zimbabwean population is not covered by any medical insurance, exposing them to outrageous out-of-pocket expenses which in turn drives them into deeper jaws of poverty. This forces families to forgo some other important aspects of life such as food and education. This forces them to dispose of their assets in a bid to save lives.

The National Health Insurance is a game changer not only in accessibility to quality health but also in the availability, affordability, and acceptability of more user-friendly healthcare services that are tagged alongside the NHI package.

As people living with NCDs, we call upon the Ministry of Health and Child Care to actively engage us as there is no UHC without NCDs. The National Health Insurance also builds into SDG 3.4 which aims to reduce NCD deaths by a third by 2030. Engaging them will bring legitimacy to the whole process and also bring in a sense of ownership of NHI amongst the NCD community.