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Govt directive costs council

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Bulawayo City Council says government’s directive to scrap maternity user fees at public health institutions will prejudice it of $10 000 in potential revenue monthly.

According to the latest council report, the local authority said it had received the directive from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to stop charging maternity fees with effect from July 5.

Last month, Finance minister (Tendai Biti) said he had allocated $10 million to the Ministry of Health to subsidise maternal health costs.

Part of the directive from Health minister Henry Madzorera’s office reads: “You may want to appreciate that the funds were allocated to support the current policy on maternal fees, which exempts pregnant mothers from paying fees up to district level.”

The letter said the fund would benefit five hospitals, eight provincial hospitals and the two major cities up to a maximum of 4 000 claims.

“All eligible institutions shall present claims on a monthly basis from June to December 2012 using the attached prescribed claim form,” Madzorera said.

“These fees cover the period of pregnancy from booking up to six weeks.”

In its report, council noted that the directive would cause it to incur losses of between $6 000 to $10 000 monthly on maternity fees.

Government scrapped maternity fees in a bid to reduce the country’s high maternity mortality rate.
However, former Health minister Timothy Stamps warned against scrapping of the fees saying no country in the world had successfully implemented such a policy. Addressing journalists in Gweru last month, Stamps, who is the health policy advisor to the President, said government hospitals should continue charging maternity fees to sustain their
operations.

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