Health minister Obadiah Moyo has disclosed that the country is losing about $400 million annually on overseas medical treatments.
By Shingirai Vambe
Moyo made the disclosure in Nyanga, while officially opening the second annual general meeting and conference of Private Hospitals Association of Zimbabwe.
“Having our own up to standard facilities will make wonders and no-one will be airlifted out of the country for health treatment and I have shared this with the President,” Moyo said.
Government and ruling Zanu PF party officials have largely bled the country by flying out to seek medical treatment overseas, running away from local health institutions that have been run down through neglet over the years.
Former President Robert Mugabe and incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his deputies Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi as well as top government officials have in recent months been receiving treatment outside the country. Mugabe made several trips to Singapore during and after his 37-year rule and Chiwenga is currently in China for medical treatment after initially visiting India and South Africa.
The $400 million the country is losing annually is adequate to renovate and equip several public health institutions.
In his address, Moyo ordered private hospital operators to stop charging in US dollars and abide with government policy of using local currency for the benefit of every Zimbabwean.
Moyo said punitive measures would be taken on hospitals that continue to charge in US dollars.
“Charging in US dollars is illegal and it is an act of corruption which is there to disadvantage the people of Zimbabwe. As government, let me set the record straight, it is illegal, and no one is above the law, action will be taken,” Moyo said.
“There are a lot of health institutions that are mushrooming, registered and unregistered . . . and most of those small hospitals are the ones illegally charging US dollars, but the law will surely catch up with them” he added.
Various groups and institutions who have gathered for the conference aired their grievances to the minister relating to cost of service delivery and challenges they are facing which include electricity and defaulting medical aid societies as well as exorbitant prices of overheads.
The minister assured the delegates that government was doing everything possible to make health service provision easy.
“Let me submit to you that we have started with Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals which will be having a face lift, while I urge you to come together so that we don’t lose that money which is being taken overseas for medical treatments.”