‘Govt red tape spikes health costs’

GOVERNMENT bureaucracy and the unrelenting liquidity crisis has continued to push the cost of health services out of reach for the ordinary people, causing unnecessary deaths, a senior official at Karanda Mission Hospital has said.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA

Medical superintendent, Daniel Stevens, in a brief to First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa during a visit to the hospital early this week said the cost of drugs had risen more than 10 times in the past year.

Stevens said the hospital was being forced to purchase expensive drugs locally instead of accessing them from cheaper markets in India.

“Locally manufactured medicine has been very expensive as opposed to importing from India, which produces quality drugs. NatPharm is not producing enough drugs, so we have to buy from the private sector at more than 10 times the cost of importing. Importing drugs has become difficult at the moment because of red tape and controls by the Medicines Council of Zimbabwe,” he said.

According to Stevens, it takes over a year to get a container of imported medicinal drugs to land in the country, because of delays by the council in clearing the medicines.

“Some of the batches have to be returned for repackaging and at the time we get the consignments some of the drugs would be close to expiry, so we have now resorted to buying locally at a premium,” he said.
The First Lady, who is on a nationwide tour raising awareness on cervical cancer which has become a problematic issue for the health sector, said she would continue to lobby government to prioritise the health sector.

“There is need for government to offer assistance to critical health centres like Karanda even though it’s a mission hospital, it serves the people of Zimbabwe and should be given that assistance,” she said.
Mnangagwa has joined the ministry of Health in the fight to put cancer on the national agenda and ensure that it does not continue to take lives in the absence of a national response.

Bernard Madzima, family health director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care said the ministry had no national response or plan on how to put the cervical cancer issue on the agenda.

“The coming in of our mother through her tours has helped us up the number of women who have been screened for cervical cancer over the past weeks,” he said.

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