By Thandiwe Garusa
THE government has, with immediate effect, hiked by 600%, fees at all public hospitals, something that set to add more misery to suffering locals.
The new charges would most likely see an increase in the number of people – especially pregnant women and the underprivileged – who are going to fail to access health care as they could not raise money for treatment.
Permanent Secretary in the Health Ministry, Agnes Mahomva, confirmed the new charges Thursday, adding that the new fees were with effect from 1 January.
She said the government had reviewed the new charges after taking into consideration the plight of patients and the current inflationary environment prevailing in the country.
The new fees will see a patient seeking treatment for chronic illness paying $100 at Parirenyatwa Hospital, as consultation, up from $15. This is an increase of 567%.
Defending the new hospital fees, Mahomva said the government was not abandoning the public.
She however appeared to be contradicting the new fee schedule when she said pregnant women were to receive free treatment.
“I want to assure the public that we have not abandoned our policies, specifically to make sure that the treatment for the under five (years children), pregnant women, the elderly and under privileged, remains free,” she said.
“We are there to help the public and not only increase fees. We take great concern and looked at the environment to make sure our facilities continue to operate,” said Mahomva.
However, according to the new fees, a maternal ward ante-natal patient will have fork out $200 at Parirenyatwa Hospital, $160 at a central hospital, $120 at a provincial hospital and $80 at a district hospital, per day.
For Caesarean section, an expectant mother will pay $2 500 at Parirenyatwa Hospital and central hospitals, $1 500 at a provincial hospital and $1 000 at a district hospital.
Section 29 of the Constitution stipulates that the State must take all practical measures to ensure the provision of basic, accessible and adequate health services for all.
It also clearly stipulates that the State must take appropriate, fair and reasonable measures to ensure that no person is refused emergency medical treatment at any health institution.