Zim doctors blast govt hospital privatisation bid

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By Paidashe Mandivengerei

ZIMBABWEAN doctors say they were against the implementation of the Public Private Partnerships on the country’s public health sector, describing the model as privatising public health institutions to the disadvantage of the poor majority.

Senior doctors said the system was not a viable one as it would mean higher medical costs which the ordinary citizen could not afford. They also find the system as riddled with corruption while also driven by profits and not patient care.

In a petition delivered to Clerk of Parliament, Kennedy Chokuda, on Wednesday, the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) urged government to make public the audit report of Chitungwiza Central Hospital which they said was a classic example of one public health institution whose privatisation has “failed”.

“The Minister of Health has proposed Private Public Partnerships as a solution to the current challenges in the public healthcare sector,” said the doctors’ group.

“While the Public Private Partnerships system is an option that could be explored in attending to some of the challenges of the health care system of our country, its currently adored model in Zimbabwe disadvantages patients and is open to corruption.

“It is literally privatisation of healthcare. Exemplified by the Chitungwiza hospital model, it takes away health care from the reach of the general public as patients have to pay more for the same service as private partners drive for profit.

“We urge the government to make public, the damning forensic audit of Chitungwiza hospital model regarding this matter for the public to know.”

An internal forensic audit of Chitungwiza hospital in 2017 revealed how private partners were benefiting more than the hospital.

In 2013, during current Health Minister, Obadiah Moyo’s tenure as Chitungwiza hospital chief executive officer, the health institution collaborated with six different private partners and this barely benefited the public as charges soared with private partners aiming to make profits as opposed to assisting patients.

A drastic decline in revenue was recorded from the monthly average of over $315 740 in 2013 to $75 090 in 2017.

The hospital failed to pay for services it was getting from its suppliers.

Authorities have however declined to make the audit report public.

The central hospitals’ private partners who were in the management of its radiotherapy, mortuary, pathology, catering, pharmacy and laboratory departments left patients paying exorbitant charges for health care services as compared to amounts paid at public institutions.