FORMER MDC MP Eddie Cross, has called on government to roll out primary health care facilities in remote areas and ensure they are within walking distance to reduce preventable deaths.
BY SIBONGINKOSI MAPHOSA/ PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
Cross made the remarks at a health care conference and expo organised by the Association of Health Care Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) in Bulawayo on Thursday last week.
“The Ministry of Health needs to see that Zimbabweans have proper health care which is within their proximity, so that they walk to access health care, for health care is a right,” Cross said.
He gave Binga as an example, where health care services are inaccessible and villagers have to walk long distances to the nearest clinic, with some failing to access services on time.
Cross challenged the government to build public health care service centres, home care, electronic consultation services and primary first stage health assistance.
AHFoZ chief executive officer, Shylet Sanyanga attributed mortalities and difficult situation faced by medical aid societies to the lack of foreign currency.
“Based on the 79% response AHFoZ societies recorded 1 540 deaths ascribed to the shortage of foreign currency, for the period October 2018 to April 2019,” Sanyanga said.
However, Cross told the delegates that the RBZ was not availing correct figures on foreign currency remittances, arguing that Zimbabweans in the diaspora were bringing in a lot of forex into the country.
“Zimbabweans in the diaspora are sending at least US$30 billion annually. We are not short of foreign currency,” Cross said.
A heart surgeon from the Heart Centre, Bangalore in India, Mohammed Rehan Sayeed, challenged the government to provide a robust primary and secondary health care system.
“The government should be hands on in providing robust primary and secondary care as this will reduce the disease burden and also screening for other diseases,” he said.
Sayeed said the private sector also has a big role to play in healthcare provision.
“The private sector also has a big role to play in this development because they have to focus on building new modern infrastructure to enable tertiary services,” he said.
Sayeed also invited Zimbabwean doctors and nurses to train in his home country to enhance their skills.
“We can have Zimbabwean doctors and nurses coming to India to up their skills on heart surgery,” he said.
“If this is implemented, it will help local nurses and doctors, over time, to create a sustainable ecosystem of their own.”
Sayeed noted that the exchange programme would inject foreign currency into Zimbabwe as other nationalities would seek Zimbabwean doctors’ services.
“Having local doctors and nurses trained will add revenue to local hospitals, up the government’s foreign exchange coffers at the same time cutting traveling costs for patients with heart problems,” he said.
Sayeed added that many African countries that include Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania rely on India for heart surgery, something that he said can be curbed if such exchange programmes were effected.
The three-day conference ended yesterday.