Home » Health Services » Medical Fees Hike Sparks Outrage

Government should reverse medical fees effected last Friday as they push basic healthcare services beyond the reach of many ordinary Zimbabweans, observers have said.

Questions are being asked as to why medical tariffs were raised when it was generally known that disposable income is limited. Observers urged the Health and Child Care Ministry to be pro-poor instead of propping up doctors who were already making a good living.

They accused the officials from the ministry of benefiting from the increases since some of them owned private surgeries. Community Working Group on Health executive director Mr Itai Rusike said doctors were living in the same economic environment as every other Zimbabwean and thus should not get special considerations.

“It is very sad that our Government approves an increase in health fees at a time everyone is struggling to put food on the table . . . We gly believe that the medicalisation of the Health Ministry has to do with this bias towards medical practitioners.”

A visit to a general practitioner now costs US$35 up from US$20, while subsequent consultation for the same illness will be US$30 up from US$15.

Subsequent consultation at a hospital or nursing home per day is now US$40 up from US$20.

Doctor’s consultation fees rise to US$60 for weekend visits and US$70 for night visits. A visit to a physician or paediatrician will cost US$120 up from US$100, though a subsequent consultation for the same illness is now US$70, down from US$80.

“The latest development defies Government’s commitment to make health affordable for all as enshrined in the new Constitution,” Mr Rusike said. “In fact, more people will die in their homes considering the fact that public health institutions are not functioning properly.”

Association of Health Care Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) chief executive officer Mrs Shylet Sanyanga said medical aid societies would meet this week over the tariffs. AHFoZ maintains that medical tariffs should not be increased because the generality of Zimbabweans cannot afford them.

Before the increases, medical tariffs in Zimbabwe were already among the highest in the region and were comparable to those charged in developed countries.

In South Africa, the consultation fees for a general practitioner is US$25 and in France it is US$30.

“AHFoZ executive committee will convene an urgent meeting this week to discuss this development,” Mrs Sanyanga said. If AHFoZ does not approve the new tariffs, patients on medical aid will have to meet the difference before receiving treatment.

Should it approve the Government’s tariffs, medical aid societies are likely to increase their subscriptions, with patients bearing the cost either way.

“That is the problem of having doctors as decision-makers in the ministry. The minister, his deputy and the secretary all have surgeries. This is proof of absolute bias towards their profession,” said a medical expert from Harare.

“This is also the reason why the Health Ministry officials are being accused of deliberately ignoring the improvement of the public health system because they want to push people to their surgeries.”

Source : The Herald