The Sunday Mail
The Ministry of Health and Child Care’s mediation in the impasse between doctors and medical aid societies over new tariffs has been compromised following revelations of a conflict of interest involving senior ministry officials.
There are indications that Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, his deputy Dr Paul Chimedza and the Permanent Secretary Brigadier-General Dr Gerald Gwinji are executing regulatory duties while also operating as general practitioners.
The trio is said to be running surgeries separately in Harare.
Section 16 A (c) (ii) of the Medical Services Regulations (2000) mandates the minister to superintend doctors and hospitals in implementing gazetted medical fees.
The minister also monitors operations of medical aid societies, including financial performance.
When contacted for comment, Dr Parirenyatwa referred all questions to his deputy while Brig-Gen Dr Gwinji could not be reached for comment.
Dr Chimedza said: “Who doesn’t have conflict of interest in the healthcare sector? I dare you to find someone without conflict of interest who acts on neutrality in the healthcare sector. At a certain point in one’s life, they are a potential patient, hence decisions made by the responsible ministry affects everyone in the country.
“As doctors, if we neglect our duties, who will do the job then? We hardly practice anyway because of ministry commitments. Every ministry that makes decisions, makes them knowing that they will affect them and everyone in the country, but that won’t stop them from making the decisions that will benefit the nation at large.”
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Mr Japhet Moyo said workers were bearing the brunt of the stand-off.
“There’s bound to be antagonism when regulators engage in a business where they regulate tariffs that disadvantage medical aid contributors — common people.
“We expect them to be professional . . . There is no justification for the tariff hike. There hasn’t been any salary increment of that margin lately. Government should intervene.”