Med­i­cal Aid Bill on cards

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Harare Bureau

THE Gov­ern­ment will next month be­gin con­sul­ta­tions for the Med­i­cal Aid So­ci­eties Bill that is ex­pected to ad­dress mul­ti­ple chal­lenges in the health in­sur­ance sec­tor, Health and Child Care Min­is­ter Dr David Parireny­atwa has said.

In a speech read on his be­half by the Deputy Min­is­ter of Health and Child Care Dr Aldrin Musi­iwa at the of­fi­cial open­ing of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Health­care Fun­ders of Zim­babwe (AHFoZ) an­nual con­fer­ence in Vic­to­ria Falls yes­ter­day, Dr Parireny­atwa said the bill, once passed into law is also ex­pected to see the es­tab­lish­ment of a med­i­cal aid reg­u­la­tory board that would over­see the op­er­a­tions of med­i­cal aid so­ci­eties in the coun­try. “Con­sul­ta­tions will be­gin in the next two or three weeks as we move to en­sure all stake­hold­ers can con­trib­ute and shape the Bill for ev­ery­one’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion,” said Dr Parireny­atwa.

He said as Gov­ern­ment sets up the reg­u­la­tory body for med­i­cal aid so­ci­eties, AHFoZ will also be con­sulted as a key stake­holder.

He said the ob­jec­tive of the Bill is to strengthen gov­er­nance and ef­fi­ciency in the health in­sur­ance sec­tor, which is cur­rently char­ac­terised by cor­rup­tion and abuse of mem­bers’ con­tri­bu­tions.

“It is not to rad­i­cally dis­rupt ex­ist­ing sys­tems that are func­tion­ing well, but to strengthen and help cre­ate an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for the ben­e­fit of the peo­ple that we are there to serve.”

Dr Parireny­atwa said Gov­ern­ment was also work­ing on find­ing fund­ing strate­gies to ca­pac­i­tate the Na­tional Health In­sur­ance Scheme, which is ex­pected to cater for the ma­jor­ity of Zim­bab­weans not on med­i­cal aid.

“We need to find a way of es­tab­lish­ing a na­tional health ser­vice that will not ben­e­fit only those in for­mal em­ploy­ment but those in the in­for­mal sec­tor and those who are un­em­ployed,” he said.

“The ob­vi­ous ob­sta­cle is fund­ing. What source of fund­ing can be tapped in to sus­tain a Na­tional Health Scheme that gives ev­ery­one ac­cess to med­i­cal ser­vices? It is an is­sue Gov­ern­ment is ac­tively con­sid­er­ing.”

He also said pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ships were the only sur­vival strat­egy for most pub­lic hos­pi­tals cit­ing an ex­am­ple of Chi­tung­wiza Cen­tral Hos­pi­tal.

“While most pub­lic hos­pi­tals are un­able to meet some very ba­sic health de­liv­ery needs, Chi­tung­wiza Hos­pi­tal has been able to de­spite op­er­at­ing in the same dif­fi­cult en­vi­ron­ment as ev­ery­one else,” Dr Parireny­atwa said.

“It of­fers an ex­cel­lent ser­vice and open new units with its most re­cent project be­ing the kid­ney trans­plant op­er­a­tions, which have not been car­ried out in Zim­babwe for many years but are due to com­mence later this year.”

Dr Parireny­atwa also urged med­i­cal aid so­ci­eties to con­tinue com­ple­ment­ing the pub­lic sec­tor and other health­care ser­vices by pro­vid­ing ser­vices that are not only open to their mem­bers but to any­one in need of them.

He, how­ever, be­moaned pro­tracted mis­un­der­stand­ings between health ser­vice providers and health in­sur­ers say­ing it was not fair to sac­ri­fice pa­tients’ wel­fare over dis­putes.

“The im­pres­sion given from var­i­ous me­dia re­ports over the last months is that health fun­ders and ser­vice providers, par­tic­u­larly doc­tors are con­stantly at each other’s throats rather than be­ing part­ners in the care of their pa­tients and mem­bers,” Dr Parireny­atwa said.

“That can­not be good for ei­ther and is cer­tainly not good for the pa­tient whose wel­fare should al­ways be up­per­most in our minds.”

Speak­ing at the same oc­ca­sion, AHFoZ chief ex­ec­u­tive Mrs Shylet Sanyanga wel­comed the idea of set­ting up a reg­u­la­tory board say­ing her as­so­ci­a­tion would also be glad to in­put into es­tab­lish­ment of the board.

“We also be­lieve the reg­u­la­tory frame­work needs to be re­viewed and up­dated to in­clude reg­u­la­tion of other play­ers who have also come onto the mar­ket,” said Mrs Sanyanga.

In re­la­tion to the dis­putes between health in­sur­ers and ser­vice providers, Mrs Sanyanga said both par­ties have a moral obli­ga­tion to en­sure that the long stand­ing im­passe is re­solved as soon as pos­si­ble.

“The lack of progress has per­pet­u­ated the suf­fer­ing of pa­tients, as they con­tinue to face short­falls and de­mands for cash from some ser­vice providers. En­er­gies spent is­su­ing and re­act­ing to ul­ti­ma­tums, threats and fights should be redi­rected to con­struc­tive di­a­logue,” she said.

Dr David Parireny­atwa

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