HEALTH and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa last week humiliated Mpilo Central Hospital chief executive officer, Leonard Mabhande in front of guests, ordering him to stop charging user fees on breast cancer patients screened using a donated mammogram scanner from the National Aids Council (NAC).
This was after Mabhande told guests that Mpilo was going to charge $25 for breast cancer screening during the commissioning of the $500 000 mammogram machine at Mpilo.
Mabhande had justified the fee, saying breast cancer screening at other institutions cost $50.
“We are not going to be using the normal rates for our patients. We are going to be charging $25, so that they are affordable,” he said.
“For those on medical aid, we are going to be charging the Association of Health Care Funders rates, $50 per pair (breast), but we are going to be charging $25 per pair for all others.”
But this did not go down well with Parirenyatwa, who asked why charge such “high fees”, when they are using a mammogram machine donated and being maintained by NAC.
“It will be pointless to have such a wonderful machine and fail to serve its purpose due to the exorbitant fees,” the Health minister said.
“This machine has been donated by NAC and it is going to be maintained by the council, so where is your justification for charging such a fee to the poor woman?
“I tell you, it will not be easy for every woman to afford that $25. Those who cannot pay should be assisted after vetting them.
“So, the procedure here is we want as many women to benefit as possible, so when they are going to do this breast screening, the procedure is going to be free.”
The mammogram machine becomes the third in the country’s hospitals after Harare Central and Mutare General hospitals got their supplies recently.
The Zimbabwe Cancer Registry says breast cancer is the second most common cancer affecting women in the country with over 7 000 women diagnosed and over 1 500 dying each year.