HEALTH organisations yesterday welcomed the directive by the Health and Child Care ministry to scrap co-payments for patients on medical aid, but said there was need to strengthen services at public hospitals.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
Aids and Arts Foundation executive director Emmanuel Gasa said the move by the Health ministry was welcome as Zimbabweans could not afford the $35 or more co-payments that were being charged by doctors.
On Saturday, Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa announced that all private medical doctors and hospitals should scrap co-payments for patients on medical aid as a means of harmonising consultation fees.
“We are happy that some of the recommendations of health organisations that were made in 2013 are now being implemented by the minister because the money that was being charged by doctors as co-payment was quite exorbitant especially considering the dire economic situation in the country,” Gasa said.
“We would like to urge the ministry to ensure user fees of $8 at clinics and hospitals are also totally scrapped because adoption of universal access to health means that treatment should be free.”
Gasa called on the ministry to consider introducing treatment literacy curriculums at clinics and hospitals to ensure patients understood the medicines they were taking.
International Community for Positive women national co-ordinator Martha Tholanah said while scrapping of co-payments at private medical institutions was welcome, focus should be on equipping public health institutions because most Zimbabweans were unable to access private health facilities.
“We just hope the public hospitals will offer full services such that people do not need to go to private doctors.
“Even if the co-payments are scratched, private doctors have always been expensive,” Tholanah said.
She said there was also need for the health ministry to ensure there was consistency in the pricing of medicines at different pharmacies in the country as a way of solving many problems affecting the health sector.
“Medicines are not available at public institutions and their pricing at different institutions is very inconsistent, with pharmacies charging different prices for the same medicine.
“There should be controls in terms of pricing of medicines and drug stocks at public hospitals,” she said.