Public health institutions have potential to deliver

Parirenyatwa Hospital

THE year 2022 saw government opening many healthcare facilities with the hope to serve many people.

Despite the establishment of such institutions, many people remain sceptical about the quality of services from public health institutions.

Zimbabwe has at least 1 850 health care facilities that offer primary healthcare services, a number that can adequately sustain the nation. There are other areas that are still in need of healthcare facilities such as the resettlement areas, which came after the fast track land reform programme which are in dire need of healthcare units to cater for the resettled farmers.

Government should urgently consider such areas if universal health coverage is to be talked about. I was in Central Estates of Mvuma where I witnessed farmers travelling in scotch carts distances of up to 30km to get to the nearest health centre.

Does government know about such health disasters that are threatening the health of our people? The provinces are headed by provincial medical directors (PMDs) who should be the eyes of government on such critical issues.

Government has great potential to deliver health to the masses, alas, maladministration, corruption, nepotism, poor governance, ignorance and bureaucracy are contributing immensely to the demise of the public health sector.

It is time President Emmerson Mnangagwa knows how people in management positions are derailing all his efforts.

The negative perception that patients hold towards public health institutions should be thoroughly investigated. It does not need the President of the country to superintend over the operations of clinics or hospitals.

The rampant corruption at some health institutions is nauseating. Poor administration at many health care facilities is killing many patients.

I was at Chegutu District Hospital two years ago when my aunt could not be attended to after a road traffic accident because the casualty department had no gloves.

Upon further enquiry, it was revealed that the pharmacist had carried the pharmacy keys with him to his rural home and the hospital had no gloves for its weekend operations. I complained to the hospital administrator, the district medical officer (DMO) and the PMD. What type of management is that?

If the country is to have an improved health service delivery, it is prudent that management positions be renewed based on performance and not on simple favouritism starting from the offices of the hospital chief executive officers, PMDs, hospital superintendents, DMOs, provincial nursing officers etcetera.

There is a serious mess in many public health institutions where arrogant health administrators are destroying public health institutions because of the so-called rules of the thumb. Why are underperforming administrators being allowed to overstay in offices, yet they are doing nothing to drive the country forward?

Many civil servants subscribe to Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) and expect to get a sound service from service providers. It is common knowledge that many service providers reject PSMAS cardholders because of explicit reasons which include non-payment, delayed payments to service providers who have to fund their own operations on a daily basis.

Why is the regulator failing to bring sanity to non-compliant medical aid societies (MASes), some of which have bludgeoning behaviours towards service providers?

Some private practitioners have written to Health permanent secretary Jasper Chimedza complaining about the conduct of one MAS that does not honour claims after 90 days.

It is now eight months and there is no response from the secretary’s office. Apparently, there are no laws that prohibit MASes from paying even if the claim forms are submitted after 90 days.

The MASes arrogantly make use of their own rules which are categorically ultra vires.

How can practitioners accept medical aid cards when at the end of the day, one gets nothing despite rendering all the required services?

You hear many patients saying they subscribe in forex and they expect all services from service providers, but some of the money paid to MASes is used to buy state-of-the-art vehicles, while service providers languish in poverty.

It is sometimes better for patients to do due diligence before joining some of these unscrupulous MASes that are bent on profiteering at the expense of sound health service delivery.

The year 2023 should see an improved health service delivery. All loopholes should be closed and those who are caught offside should face the music.

Corruption on tenders is tearing many hospitals apart, unqualified workforce should not be allowed to run offices, while nepotism and favouritism should not be entertained at all. Government institutions have great potential to serve the nation!

If we flex our hands together, Zimbabwe will be a better country in a few years. Collaboration among all key health stakeholders is key to achieving the expected health deliverables.

Private practitioners play a pivotal role in the country, yet they are side-lined on critical issues. Zimbabwe needs collaboration!

  • Johannes Marisa is president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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