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Women call on government to increase health budget and improve mental health services

Treasury should increase the national health budget allocation and prioritize mental health in the 2021 national budget in order to avoid complexities in treating people with mental illnesses and improve the provision of drugs, stakeholders have said.

Participants expressed deep concern over inadequate social welfare support from the government particularly for mental health patients, people with disability, women and youths in the face of economic difficulties.

Contributing during a pre-national budget consultation meeting organised by the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development and Extended Sustainable Development Goals, a participant who identified himself as a member of the Disability Board said there is need for the government to increase funds allocated to health facilities in order to improve mental health service delivery.

“Treating people with mental health illnesses has been very difficult because there are not enough resources to do so. Some mental health patients relapse because they do not get their drugs regularly. Mental health patients have not been getting all the necessary medication which is why we call on the government to increase funds channelled towards public health institutions that deal with mental health,” he said.

Another participant from Jairos Jiri Maltilda Mzondiwa expressed concern over the high unemployment rate among people with disabilities pleading that the government should provide startup funds to person with disabilities.

“People with disabilities are not employed because most companies think that they are incapable of executing certain duties. We ask that the treasury allocate funds to help people with disabilities start their businesses,” she said.

Caroline Moyo called on the government to increase grants given to people with disability. She added that the government should also provide wheelchairs as they are too expensive to buy.

“We call on the government to increase government grants for people with disability. Most of them are not working so they need to be helped by the government so that they live healthy lives. Most of them need wheelchairs but they can not afford to buy them on their own so they really need help,” said Moyo.

Sandiso Dladla from the Women’s Coalition said women and youths were interested in the country’s economic development processes but were hindered by lack of resources such as land and finances.

“Women and youth wish that they could take part in the economic development processes, but because land is expensive and they do not have finances they hardly participate. The government should in the 2021 budget incentivize land so that women and youths are able to buy and start-up their projects,” she said.

Dladla shared her displeasure over the $2 million that was allocated in the previous budget to fund free sanitary wear provision, saying that the funds were not properly utilized as evidenced by the fact that no free sanitary wear was distributed by the government.

“In terms of the $2 million that was allocated towards the provision of free sanitary wear in the country, we did not see any free pads or anything being distributed across the country. As such, we appeal to the government to stick to its word and increase this fee because girls from the rural areas cannot afford to purchase sanitary wear,” she added.

Other participants called for the prioritization of women empowerment stating that women need land to implement economic projects that will contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


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