Med­i­cal aid scam un­earthed So­ci­eties sign con­tracts with In­di­ans to scout for pa­tients

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Paidamoyo Chipunza in Greater Noida, In­dia

SOME med­i­cal aid so­ci­eties are opt­ing to have their mem­bers un­dergo med­i­cal pro­ce­dures in In­dia in­stead of hav­ing them done in Zim­babwe be­cause of the high costs as­so­ci­ated with lo­cal health care.

Some of the med­i­cal aid so­ci­eties have even signed con­tracts with In­di­ans who link them with ser­vice providers.

On the other hand, the In­dian ser­vice providers have also iden­ti­fied their agen­cies that search for pa­tients in Zim­babwe and re­fer them to In­dian ser­vice providers on a com­mis­sion.

Some so­ci­eties are send­ing up to 20 pa­tients a month, some re­quir­ing pro­ce­dures that are lo­cally avail­able.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions by our Harare Bureau have re­vealed that In­dian ser­vice providers were charg­ing be­tween $6 000 and $8 000 for knee re­place­ments. The same ser­vice costs $13 000 in Zim­babwe. Ap­pen­dec­tomy surgery costs at least $800 but in Zim­babwe it costs al­most twice the amount. Cataract surg­eries are pegged at $800 in In­dia and $1 775 in Zim­babwe.

Other ex­am­ples in­clude treat­ment of dif­fer­ent types of can­cer whose costs av­er­age about $10 000 in In­dia as op­posed to about $25 000 in Zim­babwe.

A full body scan, known as PET scan, costs around $5 000 in Zim­babwe but in In­dia it is as low as $500.

Speak­ing on the side­lines of In­dia’s 2nd in­ter­na­tional sum­mit on med­i­cal value travel tak­ing place here in Greater Noida, Zim­babwe’s Am­bas­sador to In­dia Mr Maxwell Ranga said the num­ber of Zim­bab­weans seek­ing treat­ment in In­dia con­tin­ues to in­crease be­cause of the high cost of med­i­cal care in pri­vate prac­tice, and lit­tle ser­vice pro­vi­sion in public health in­sti­tu­tions.

Mr Ranga crit­i­cised the idea of com­ing to In­dia for med­i­cal rea­sons say­ing Zim­babwe must utilise the op­por­tu­nity to part­ner with the In­dian com­mu­nity to re­sus­ci­tate public health in­sti­tu­tions so that peo­ple ac­cess af­ford­able and high qual­ity med­i­cal care.

“I am to­tally against med­i­cal tourism. My main thrust is to lure these hospi­tals and prac­ti­tion­ers to come and open hospi­tals in Zim­babwe and be able to pro­vide these much needed ser­vices to our pa­tients in the com­fort of their home coun­try.

“We want to col­lab­o­rate with them to re­sus­ci­tate Parireny­atwa Group of Hospi­tal, to re­sus­ci­tate Harare Cen­tral Hospi­tal and equip the in­sti­tu­tions with state-of-the-art med­i­cal equip­ment so that our peo­ple do not need to travel here,” said Mr Ranga.

He said the em­bassy iden­ti­fied sev­eral hospi­tals and prac­ti­tion­ers who were will­ing to part­ner with Zim­bab­wean in­sti­tu­tions, but his ef­forts were fall­ing on deaf ears back home.

“I have ap­proached sev­eral hospi­tals and they are keen on com­ing to open hospi­tals in Zim­babwe or even part­ner with our lo­cal in­sti­tu­tions, but we are hav­ing chal­lenges in get­ting re­sponses from the rel­e­vant of­fi­cials back home. Last year, I had a hospi­tal which wanted to open an eye clinic, and I have writ­ten sev­eral letters but to no avail,” he said.

Mr Ranga urged all rel­e­vant min­istries to put their heads to­gether and address the sit­u­a­tion, which is cum­ber­some for the pa­tient.

Sep­a­rate in­ter­views con­ducted with In­dian health fa­cil­i­ties ex­hibit­ing at the sum­mit showed that a ma­jor­ity of them were in­ter­ested in part­ner­ing with Zim­bab­wean in­sti­tu­tions par­tic­u­larly in pro­vi­sion of ser­vices that are not avail­able in the coun­try.

Asian Bari­atrics vice chair­man Dr San­jay Pa­to­lia said they were keen to of­fer treat­ments for ex­treme obe­sity and di­a­betes to Zim­bab­wean pa­tients in their home coun­try.

“What we just need is to iden­tify a part­ner­ing in­sti­tu­tion and work on modal­i­ties of help­ing the Zim­bab­wean pa­tients on a win­win sit­u­a­tion,” said Dr Pa­to­lia.

Asked on the fea­si­bil­ity of of­fer­ing the ser­vices in Zim­babwe at the same cost that the In­di­ans are charg­ing in their coun­try, Apollo Hospi­tals In­ter­na­tional Lim­ited gen­eral man­ager — health­care ser­vices Mr Shahid Par­wez said costs might be dif­fer­ent but would def­i­nitely be af­ford­able.

He said the In­dian model was based on lur­ing pa­tients through af­ford­able health­care costs, a model which he said has worked well in at­tract­ing pa­tients from all over the world.

Although the ex­act num­ber of Zim­bab­weans seek­ing treat­ment from In­dia could not im­me­di­ately be ob­tained, sources claim that an av­er­age of 50 pa­tients visit In­dia for med­i­cal rea­sons ev­ery month.

Ac­cord­ing to the Fed­er­a­tion of In­dian Cham­ber and Com­merce (FICCI) about 500 000 pa­tients from all over the world seek med­i­cal ser­vices from In­dia an­nu­ally.

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