Free user-fee policy good but...

HARARE - It is not in dispute that a sizeable number of Zimbabweans have not been accessing public and private health facilities because of the costs involved resulting in a situation whereby a number of people have actually died in silence from treatable diseases, while others have sought alternatives such as consulting prophets and traditional healers simply because the cost of medical care is beyond their reach.

Among these vulnerable groups are children below the age of five, senior citizens aged above 65 years and expecting mothers.

It is against this background that government should be applauded for enforcing the free user-fee policy to enable these ill-protected groups to access healthcare free of charge.

In a country enduring high unemployment and worsening poverty levels, it is unavoidable that only a small portion of the population has medical cover, which means the rest of the citizens must pay cash to access medical care and drugs.

Medical costs had particularly become prohibitive to expecting mothers, senior citizens and children below the age of five and yet these special interest groups cannot do without regular visits to the doctor or health professionals.

It must be appreciated that the free user-fee policy was not being implemented for all these years because none of the country’s public health institutions had the resources to absorb the heavy costs that come with offering free health care.

Regardless, their books were not looking good. Most of them are in a terrible state and require serious re-investments to improve their drug situation, equipment and conditions of service for staff, among other things.

With the government moving to enforce the free user-fee policy, Treasury must ensure that the cost of providing health services to these vulnerable groups is well taken care of through subsidies otherwise the situation in public health institutions could deteriorate further.

This is not going to be easy considering that government is already thin on resources and is behind with some of the critical payments to service providers.

On Friday, the secretary in the ministry of Health and Child Care, Gerald Gwinji, was quoted saying the Health Levy would be used to supply vital medicines and medical sundries needed by the health institutions so that they can absorb some of the costs associated with the implementation of this policy.

While this makes sense, funds raised from the levy still fall far short of what is required to bridge the gap.

Our fear is that government might have rushed to implement this policy for purposes of getting votes at the next elections without thinking through the impact occasioned by this action.


Comments (1)

its really strainous looking at the impact it has on the currently ailing economy. Do me favour by explaining more advabtages and disadvantages of this act......

wal - 5 February 2018

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