SOME private clinics in Harare are overcharging their Covid-19 vaccination administration fees, while others are refusing to accept local currency payments, The Sunday Mail has established.
In July, Government extended the vaccination programme to private health institutions in order to increase the number of points where people can get their Covid-19 jabs. The institutions were directed to charge a nominal administration fee of $434,35 for the administration of an injection by a doctor and $220,64 for one administered by a nurse.
Vaccination remains free in public institutions.
Investigation by this publication show that some facilities are charging inflated fees as high as $700 or US$8 for an injection administered by a doctor, while others are demanding $320 or US$3,50 for being jabbed by a nurse.
Under their arrangement with Government, private clinics get the vaccines, syringes, vaccination cards and registers free of charge from the Ministry of Health and are only allowed to charge administration costs.
Investigations show that some clinics operating in the Avenues area in Harare are charging administration fees above the gazetted prices. At one clinic (name supplied) operating along Baines Avenue, the doctor’s administration fee has been pegged at US$6 while the nurse’s fee is US$3,50.
An official at the clinic said they only accept payment in US dollars.
“It is either you pay in hard currency or we use the parallel market rate of the day which is ZW$145:USD1,” she said.
Another facility (name supplied) is only accepting payment in US dollars or an equivalent in Zimbabwean dollars at the parallel market rate. Efforts to speak to management at both establishments were fruitless.
Public relations and communications officer at the Ministry of Health and Child Care Mr Donald Mujiri said clinics charging above the gazetted prices were in violation of their agreement with Government.
“Private institutions should not charge anything beyond what the Government gazetted as this is considered a breach of what the private institutions agreed with the Government,” he said.
“Anyone charging exorbitant fees is acting outside the confines of the law.”
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association (MDPPZA) president, Dr Johannes Marisa, a body representing medical practitioners in private practice, said private clinics should stick to the gazetted price.
He said a circular has been sent to association members encouraging them to abide by the stipulated fee.
“Please do not charge beyond the gazetted tariffs as these vaccines are secured and delivered from central Government.
“Any member or private practitioner who is charging more than the stipulated fee is doing so outside the confines of the law,” Dr Marisa said.
Pharmacists join the fray
This comes as Government is planning to extend the vaccination programme to include pharmacists in the private sector.
Already, pharmacists under the Retail Pharmacists Association (RPA) are undergoing training to safely administer Covid-19 jabs.