Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
SOME PRIVATE health institutions are demanding as much as US$700 deposit and up to US$250 per night for patients admitted, making falling ill an economic nightmare for the majority.
A survey by Sunday News last week revealed that charges of admission in addition to drugs have become a serious challenge.
A private hospital in Bulawayo’s city centre is charging an admission deposit of US$700 and US$250 per day excluding drugs for a private ward.
The survey showed that a general ward at the hospital requires one to fork out US$150 deposit and US$50 per day excluding drugs.
The institution also charges a theatre deposit of US$300 if one has to be operated on.
Another private hospital charges US$108 per night or RTGS equivalent using the going rate.
The hospital, however, charges varying amounts depending on the nature of the disease with some illnesses going for US$360 or RTGS equivalent. The amount excludes doctors’ fees.
Although the Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe, which represents medical aid societies had not responded to e-mailed questions at the time of going to print, it was also noted that even those with medical aid were paying shortfalls of up to US$50 as some medical aid providers have indicated that they cannot meet the US dollar charges demanded by service providers when members are contributing in RTGS$.
Some medical aid providers have informed their members that they have to reduce the maximum number of visits to doctors and hospitals and those exceeding the limit will foot their own bills.
However, admission fees at public hospital are generally affordable. United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) is charging $75 admission fee and $17 per day thereafter, while a day in the private ward cost $50.
The cost does not include any medication or sundries that are required by the institution.
Mpilo Central Hospital is charging $50 per day for their private ward and one has to get their own private doctor who will attend to them at an extra cost.
For an admission one pays $30 deposit, $17 when you are referred then un-referred patients pay $30 per day. The general wards are also cheaper in public hospitals compared to private wards at the same institutions. Ingutsheni Psychiatric Hospital does not charge any fees.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Agnes Mahomva said the Government could not comment on charges by private hospitals, but was working on a programme to ensure that basic drugs were affordable to the majority of the people.
“We are trying to ensure medicine and other commodities are available in our health institutions so that our people do not have to buy outside making it less expensive for them. This initiative of making sure that our hospitals and institutions have stocked up on medicines is also one of our 100 day cycle projects. At one point we moved from 57 percent to 67 percent in terms of stocks in our health facilities. We have cushioned them (institutions) and that 67 percent can even go higher so a lot is happening in the sector as evidenced by the move from 57 to 67 percent in terms of stocks,” said Dr Mahomva.
Dr Mahomva said the newly appointed Chairman of the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPham) Dr Billy Rigava will steer the company in the right direction and ensure there are no leakages taking place.
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