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HEALTH minister David Parirenyatwa has said the government will soon introduce a law that forces hospitals around the country to provide medical services to any admitted patient.

The minister said this following a 100 percent increase in admission fees announced by Parirenyatwa hospital on Wednesday.

Cimas medical aid society also increased its monthly subscriptions by 50 percent.

In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, Parirenyatwa said government has the sole mandate of approving new admission fees and will soon summon the hospital management for an explanation.

He said referral hospitals that want to raise medical fees should discuss their proposal with his ministry first and agree on the way forward.

“We are trying to find ways of enforcing government policies which even say that children under five and pregnant mothers should not pay medical fees at government institutions,” said Parirenyatwa.

“But we don’t want to get there now because we are also aware of the inflexibility of the economy as it is now.

“On all the other hospitals I can assure you that they will be sticking to the stipulated amounts that we have approved we will be properly looking at what has happened at Parirenyatwa hospital in that regard”.

NewZimbabwe.com reported last week that management at the country’s leading referral hospital had increased charges by over 100 percent.

A notice from the management said “patients admitted in ward C7C8C9 will have to pay $140.00 while those admitted in ward C4C5C6 will pay $185.00.

“Patients seeking oncology chemotherapy will pay $50.00 and oncology radiotherapy $185.00, above five years $140.00”.

Previously, the hospital was charging $50.00 as admission fee after paying a $15 consultation allowance upfront before being attended to by a medical doctor, a sum which patients were failing to pay.

The health minister said institutions like Parirenyatwa, Harare, Mpilo and UBH remain referral hospitals.

He said, if patients are referred properly, they should not be denied medical services because they do not have the required admission deposit fees.

“That’s why we are trying to decentralise our services to various clinics and various district institutions”.

Speaking to Newzimbabwe.com on the same issue, finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said government was aware of the country’s health challenges.

“For instance, we are not yet complying with the Abuja declaration which requires that we are supposed to spend 15% of the national budget on health.

“But in the light of the prevailing circumstances, we have committed ourselves to looking after the vulnerable groups, giving them access to our medical facilities,” said minister Chinamasa.

“But there are those classes who can afford it and we obviously want them to make their contribution or meet part of the cost of health”.

Recently, minister Parirenyatwa begged the European Union (EU) to set aside political differences with Harare to allow direct funding for the health sector as the block released $13 million as extension grant.

Source : New Zimbabwe