Source: Doctors get nod to advertise – Sunday News Aug 20, 2017
THE Government has relaxed advertising regulations for the medical sector as part of efforts to raise awareness on locally available essential services.
Zimbabwe had a strict advertising policy governing health services providers which made it difficult for them to use the media to provide information on what they offer.
Doctors were previously not allowed to advertise, invite attention to their professional position, skills, qualifications, achievements, attainments, specialities, appointments, associations and affiliations.
According to a recent Statutory Instrument, the Health and Child Care Ministry — in terms of Section 145 of the Health Professions Act (Chapter 27: 19) — approved relaxed regulations as proposed by the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council.
However, the law restricts touting for patients, use of testimonials from patients, direct or suggested comparisons of services among other ethical reservations.
Zimbabwe Medical Association general secretary Dr Shingi Bopoto said the relaxed regulations would ensure more information dissemination.
“We have been pushing for a while that some form of public dissemination of information on what we offer be allowed. But the law didn’t allow us as it was considered unethical professional misconduct,” he said.
“However, practitioners not bound by the same law were allowed to advertise in the media making an impression that we don’t offer the same services locally.
“Restriction of advertisements by doctors were well intentioned tactic to minimise commercialisation of medicine, to create equal playing field for all doctors and to avoid the profession look like business.”
The relaxed advertising regulations come in the wake of reports of scores of Zimbabweans flocking to other countries for specialist medical attention which was in some cases available locally.