Medical fees for infants, senior citizens and pregnant women\nursing mothers at State-run hospitals have been scrapped as part of measures to increase healthcare access.
This takes effect immediately.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Secretary for Health and Child Care Brigadier-General (Rtd) Dr Gerald Gwinji said such measures were now possible following improvements in budgetary support.
“Government has always had that policy, but it was a bit difficult to implement because of inadequate budgetary support,” said Dr Gwinji.
“As we move forward, we are getting better budgetary support and can begin to ensure that these categories, as specified by Government, get their services for free.”
Last Friday, Mashonaland Central provincial medical director Dr Clemence Tshuma informed district medical officers, medical superintendents, rural district council chief executive officers and town clerks under his jurisdiction about the new dispensation.
His letter shows that Cabinet approved the initiative in line with Government’s 100-day economic stimulus plan.
Part of the letter reads, “With the coming of the new dispensation, Cabinet has approved a 100-day plan, which everyone has to work towards achieving. One of the issues in that 100-day plan, which requires our attention, is the removal of all forms of payment for non-paying groups.
“The following groups are supposed to be treated for free: children under the age of five years, all maternal cases and senior citizens above the age of 65 years.”
Dr Tshuma ordered all district medical officers to submit their first progress reports to him by January 25, 2018.
“These groups are not supposed to pay consultation fees, card fees, table money, administration fees or whatever name the fee might be called.
“You are, therefore, expected to advise all your institutions to remove the fees with immediate effect. DMOs are being reminded that the first progress report is due on January 25.”
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe executive director Ms Rosemary Siyachitema welcomed the development, and implored Government to ensure standard service.
“It is a good thing and we are happy that our Government has remembered our old and the mothers. We are already living in a difficult economic environment and the scrapping of fees will come as a relief,” she said.
“However, we appeal to Government to ensure the service is standard and not shoddy.
‘‘Whenever there is a free service, there is a tendency to provide poor service. So, Government should monitor, from time to time, and support the measures with necessary financial requirements.”
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