Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
THE Government has warned private doctors, medical aid societies and pharmacies that it might soon be forced to gazette health fees to protect suffering patients from errant practitioners charging in US dollars.
THE Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo yesterday told health care funders that many people who still earn salaries in RTGS$ have suffered at the hands of health care providers who present unaffordable options for treatment.
In a speech read of his behalf by the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) chief executive officer, Mrs Nonhlanhla Ndlovu, during the official opening of the 2019 Associations of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe conference in Bulawayo yesterday, Dr Moyo said it was necessary for Government to deliver citizens from such operations.
“I would prefer not to resort to gazetting fees. However, Government cannot continue watching people suffering and dying. We may soon have to consider gazetting of fees for service provider groups with no foreign currency component,” said Dr Moyo.
“We know that some health care provider groups require foreign currency for their operations which is unfair to the patient. Demanding US$ dollars from the patient or fixing the charge in US$ and then converting this to RTGS dollars in unfair given that most people are earning in RTGS dollars equivalent to what they were earning when the RTGS and a US dollar were at par.”
He said his office will liaise with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Reserve Bank to discuss a way forward on US$ prices.
“In line with the Medical Aid Services Act, my office will soon be calling for a Joint Advisory Council (JAC) meeting to discuss those issues. It is my hope that from JAC meetings agreed workable position will emerge and that I will not have to use the powers given me in the Act to gazette fees in the event of lack of an agreed tariff,” said Dr Moyo.
Dr Moyo said he was aware that medical aid statutory liquid reserves have been eroded in value to currency changes and inflation.
“This has left medical aid societies exposed and battling to remain viable, with their members facing huge shortfalls. This is clear example of why medical aid societies should invest wisely in the interests of their members,” he said.
According to Dr Moyo there is a need to urgently find sustainable solutions to alleviate patient suffering and the unnecessary loss of life.
“We also have challenges that include medicine shortages, inadequate emergency transport and communication systems, the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, inadequate mitigation of environmental pollution, poor water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure low standard quality of maternal health services and weak Health and Management Information Systems at the facility level.”—@thamamoe