Zimbabwe’s Parliament moots policy reform to commercialise services at public hospitals

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By Thandiwe Garusa

PARLIAMENTARIANS have vowed to advocate for legislative and policy adjustments that would permit the commercialisation of services at Zimbabwe’s public hospitals.

The government hospital system includes six central hospitals, eight provincial hospitals, and 63 district-level hospitals, with the rest being rural hospitals.

The envisaged legislative tweak, according to them, aims to empower institutions to generate their own revenue streams, thereby improving service delivery without solely relying on Treasury disbursements.

For many years, general hospitals have been struggling financially affecting their ability to provide quality services.

Addressing journalists following a visit to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, which is the country’s largest referral centre, Daniel Molokele, chairperson of the parliamentary Health Portfolio Committee, expressed dismay at the persistent deteriorating conditions.

Molokele promised to push for legal and policy change to ensure general hospitals offer services at a fee for self-sustainability and enhancing service delivery.

“As a portfolio committee it is our responsibility to start to make sure that this changes.

“Our responsibility is to make sure that access to health services especially for cancerous diseases must not be a preserve for a few Zimbabweans, it must be for every Zimbabwean and as things stand we hear that a lot of people are dying because emphasis is on money.

“We think the real problem is not money, but rather the legal and policy framework around administration of these healthcare services. What we need to see is institutions such as Parirenyatwa, Mpilo, getting more autonomy in terms of ability to provide services at a fee,” Molokele said.

The parliamentarians toured the cancer treatment unit, where it was confirmed, standards had deteriorated to unacceptable levels with critical cancer equipment grounded.
“So, I think the era of Parirenyatwa waiting for someone to pay for the repairs or the maintenance of these machines has to come to an end, they must have the ability to pay for themselves and that is the direction we are going to push for.
“We are going to push for policy and legal framework so that those people going to India and South Africa or the private sector for healthcare services actually access them here, what we call commercialisation, and then Parirenyatwa will use the profits to fund the public front of it so that more people can access the service,” said Molokele, who is Member of Parliament for Hwange constituency.