BULAWAYO, Thursday, September 15,1966 — The Ministry of Health has written to the Bulawayo Medical Officer of Health, Dr EF Watson, complaining about local authorities practice of asking the Ministry to pay the bills run up in local authority infectious disease hospital by “foreign” patients.
The Ministry said that such patients came to Rhodesia “. . . with the sole idea of obtaining medical treatment in local authority infectious diseases hospitals”. In terms of a public Health Finance Agreement, the Ministry is responsible for paying for patients in infectious diseases hospitals when such patients are outside the local authority area.
The payment for African patients is one shilling a day. For non-Africans it is 2,5s a day. At the last meeting of the City Council’s health and welfare committee this matter was discussed.
The medical officer agreed with the Minster’s view that the agreement was not intended to cover foreign patients who came to Rhodesia specifically for treatment of infectious diseases. As his consent is required before foreign patients can be admitted to infectious diseases hospitals in Bulawayo, he felt the council should accept responsibility for collecting fees from such patients.
The committee will recommend this to the Council at its next meeting. In an interview yesterday, Dr Watson said that in the 18 years he had held the office of medical officer in Bulawayo, he could only recall one “foreign” patient admitted to Bulawayo’s Infectious Diseases Hospital.
He said it was obvious that the foreign patients to whom the Ministry referred were non-Africans, and that they were admitted to hospitals in other centres, not Bulawayo.
It was clearly the charge of 2,5s a day for non-Africans against which the Ministry was protesting. The government is merely pointing out that in the case of municipal hospitals, we and not they, should collect the fees.