‘Govt considering allowing doctors to advertise’

Source: ‘Govt considering allowing doctors to advertise’ – DailyNews Live

Blessings Mashaya  4 August 2017

HARARE – Government is considering amending the policy which prohibits
doctors from advertising in the media, Health and Child Care minister
David Parirenyatwa has said.

Chegutu East Zanu PF MP Webster Shamhu asked in the National Assembly what
government’s policy was on the matter.

This comes after doctors proposed to government sweeping amendments to the
Health Professions Act to pave way for a new policy which allows health
practitioners to advertise.

This also comes as the Health Professions Authority (HPA) has come up with
an electronic database of 3 500 health institutions and experts easily
accessible to the public.

Parirenyatwa said they are considering amending the policy.

“Policy states that if a doctor has his own surgery or hospital, he is
allowed to erect a board or poster to show what he is doing.

“Also, the print has certain measurements that should be observed but they
are not allowed to go on air, like on radio, to advertise and encourage
people to go to their surgeries.

“Still on that note, there are quite a lot of professional doctors and we
have specialist doctors.

“We are amending that policy to ensure that doctors are able to advertise
their specialities, which is allowed. Other countries actually allow this
to be done in both the print and electronic media.

“We want to see how far we can go pertaining to that,” he said.

Speaking at the authority’s annual congress in November last year, HPA
president Adolf Macheka, a specialist surgeon, said the proposed review of
the policy and the relaxation of regulations were part of efforts to
promote the ease-of-doing-business in the health sector.

“Advertising in the health sector was a long outstanding issue and
Zimbabwe is lagging behind in as far as information to the public is

“The current legislation does not allow advertising and severely restricts
even provision of simple health related information to the public, hence
the need for a review of the legislation in order to embrace technological
advances, emerging concerns and changing international best practices,”
Macheka said.

He said the position was taken to make health information more accessible
to the public than for commercial reasons.

“The HPA took a position to review the advertising policy. This is
underpinned by advertising for information to the public rather than
advertising for commercial purposes.

“This we have done and I am happy to inform delegates that a new
advertising policy is now in place. The new advertising policy ultimately
triggers amendment of Section 135 of the Health Professions Act. That is
the process we are currently doing . . . and after this, both the new
advertising policy and the proposed amendments to the Act will be
submitted to the minister for approval,” Macheka said.

The previous advertising policy had been criticised of being too strict,
with citizens even failing to access health tips and information freely
from health experts as well as failing to locate specialists easily.