Be innovative, health service providers urged

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA

Medical practitioners have urged both health service providers and funders to be innovative and come up with new and affordable products.

Private healthcare facilities, which include surgeries, clinics and even 24-hour emergency rooms and hospitals, have mushroomed in major cities such as Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and other smaller towns, but most are unaffordable to the general public.

Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe (MDPPAZ) secretary-general Cletos Masiya said the harsh economic environment obtaining in the country had reduced the number of people with extra income to afford health services and insurance.

He said a private package from one of the biggest medical aid societies costs $13 500 for a family of three. Despite this, members still find themselves accruing shortfalls.
Masiya said there was strong need for organisations such as MDPPAZ, which represents over 300 health practitioners across the country, to lobby for a win-win situation with medical aid societies, all for the benefit of the patients.

“It is key to understand that there is an umbrella body representing medical funders called Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ),” Masiya said.

“This used to be a tightly structured and powerful association which virtually, all medical funders belonged. It was responsible for registration of service providers to be issued with providers’ numbers through which they would be paid after providing services at gazetted fees.”

He said AHFoZ collapsed after major medical aid societies such as PSMAS and Cimas pulled
out.

“We also feel that the lack of trust and cooperation has led to rapid rise in costs of services and subscriptions, resulting in this being the main reason why the number of insured has not grown as people don’t see the value of being under a medical aid society,” Mayisa said.

He, however, said the active involvement of the regulator, who is the Minister of Health, was imperative.

“The Ministry of Health on many occasions has not been clear in defining the rules of engagement in this industry. The Medical aid Bill has not been finalised. To what extent should health funders be health service providers? What is the role of the Competition and Tariff Commission in all this?” he asked.

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