Zimbabwe’s medical aid societies defend service fees

Medical aid service providers said yesterday they were being forced to make monthly adjustments to the cost of their services as a survival strategy due to exchange rate disparities.

Association of Health Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) Chief Executive Officer Shylet Sanyanga revealed this at the ongoing AHFoZ conference in Victoria Falls under the theme Healthcare Ecosystem: Time to Redesign.

Addressing the delegates, Sanyanga said medical service providers have not been spared by the country’s economic climate, forcing them to always adjust their prices to survive the turmoil.

“The main reason for the prevailing deficits is an exchange rate mismatch and this is something that the AHFoZ cannot address,” Sanyanga said.

“For medical aid companies to keep up to date means they also have to make adjustments and we are now doing monthly reviews. AHFoZ cannot sit back and say there will be no more shortages. We need to engage and we all need to understand the reasons behind the shortages.”

Contributors to medical aid have consistently expressed concern about why they are still forced to pay extra when seeking medical care.

Some service providers demand money up front as the cost of healthcare continues to rise, forcing many Zimbabweans to cross borders, especially to South Africa in search of healthcare services affordable.

But lately they have been attacked by locals who accuse them of flooding their public clinics and hospitals. Limpopo provincial member of the Health Executive Committee, Phophi Ramatuba, recently caused a storm after a video clip went viral of her berating a Zimbabwean woman hospitalized in one of the province’s hospitals. A Kenyan lawyer, Patrick Lumumba, said the Ramathuba blasts were a wake-up call for the Zimbabwean government.

“It was a message to the government of Zimbabwe, that maybe now is the time to do everything in its power to ensure that its citizens are not exposed to this kind of humiliation,” Lumumba said. , who was one of the Zimbabwean speakers at the AFCoZ Conference, says virtually.

Speaking at the same event, World Health Organization Country Representative Alex Gasasira said COVID-19 has revealed the need to fund public health systems.

“This means that making a national health system resilient requires a health system oriented towards primary health care with the capacity to support essential health systems for all, including during emergencies … supported by a reorientation of investments and resources,” Gasasira said.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also Minister of Health and Child Welfare, is expected to officially open the conference today.