Sunday, 8 February 2015

‘Consultation fees 40 times higher’

Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Consultation fees for public health institutions in Zimbabwe are 40 times higher than those charged by other countries in the region such as Swaziland, its Health Minister has said.
‘Consultation fees 40 times higher’
Speaking after touring three referral health institutions in Harare last Thursday, Minister Sibongile Simelane said consultation fees were half a dollar in public health institutions in her country, compared to $20 in Zimbabwe.

She said while she felt $20 was too much for those who cannot afford, in a way it helped in other areas of service delivery such as infrastructure.

“In Swaziland it costs half a dollar to seek services from a public institution and that amount involves everything including medication and blood but you find that our infrastructure is also suffering,” she said.

She, however, urged Government to find mechanisms of funding the public health system to reduce the high costs.

Minister Simelane visited the national drug stores — Natpharm, Parirenyatwa Hospital and the National Blood Services Zimbabwe where she received briefs on how the institutions operated before touring different departments.

The minister, who was in the country at the invitation of Southern African Aids Information Dissemination Service (SAFAIDS), which celebrated its 20 years in existence last week, commended the health infrastructure in Zimbabwe as well as the system in place of managing drugs and blood.

“We have learnt a lot from Zimbabwe’s system, which we will need to consider as a country, particularly issues to do with drug supply and distribution,” she said.

Minister Simelane said Swaziland was looking for cost-effective ways of providing healthcare services to its people and the Zimbabwean arrangement where drugs were procured by a single entity for the rest of the country was workable.

“We were told how easy it is to benefit from economies of scale and do away with middlemen in drug supply and distribution if procurements are done centrally as opposed to our system in Swaziland,” she said.

She said in Swaziland, drugs were procured by Government for the different health institutions in the country, but the major huddle was existence of middlemen who then raise costs of drugs.

SAfAIDS deputy director Ms Rouzeh Eghtessadi, who accompanied the Minister, applauded Government’s system on storage and distribution of anti-retroviral drugs.

She said Zimbabwe was one of the few countries with a clear budget for ARVs through the Aids Levy — making it a beacon in the region.

SAfAIDS celebrated its 20 years of existence in Zimbabwe in Harare last week.
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