THINGS have really fallen apart in the country, with prices of basic commodities and services like health care shooting through the roof.
However, where these costs can be justified, there is no problem, but when practitioners in the sector seek to profiteer, preying on the desperation of patients and their relatives, then this is morally repugnant.
Health minister Obadiah Moyo, as reported in our Monday edition, expressed concern — while speaking at the Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) 50th anniversary in Bulawayo recently — over the pricing structures being used by some health care providers in the private sector.
Zimbabwe is in the middle of a debilitating economic crisis and over-pricing goods and services, especially in sectors like health care, has all the signs of being inconsiderate in those who are doing it.
Because of the lure of the dollar, some health practitioners offering different services within the sector charge exorbitantly, to the extent of almost condemning ordinary citizens to death because they can not afford the fees.
There are also some who charge their fees in United States dollars when they know that the bulk of Zimbabweans earn their salaries in the local currency. Most salaried employees take out medical insurance for the comfort it affords them, but the shortfalls they routinely incur make a mockery of the schemes for which they pay astronomical figures.
Resorting to private practice for services has been occasioned by the fact that the public health system has been compromised, owing to low salaries and poor working conditions in government institutions.
Moyo’s message went to the right audience — AHFoZ — because they need to know the fees they charge for some of their services are out of this world. For the well-heeled, this is not an issue because they can afford to seek medication in foreign lands.
Working in the medical field is a calling and letting someone die because they have not paid the fees is morally wrong.
Zimbabweans must remember that access to health is guaranteed in the Constitution and as such, there is need to revisit the way they operate with a view to revising their fee structure.
While health care providers argue that their operational costs are high, there is need for all stakeholders to engage in frank discussion so that a lasting solution that benefits all is found.
There is no need to punish the patient, who is already desperate and at times incapacitated already.