Zimbabwe government faces lawsuit over doctors’ fee hike

via Govt faces lawsuit over doctors’ fee hike – DailyNews Live by Wendy Muperi 31 MAY 2014

Rights lawyers are taking government to court over the recent hike in doctors’ consultation fees if the State refuses to reverse the increase in consultation, private hospital and associated unit fees.

Dzimbabwe Chimbga, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) programmes manager, said they could be forced to fight for Zimbabweans’ health rights in the courts if negotiation and lobbying fails.

“This is highly unacceptable as it will hamper access to healthcare services for the majority of Zimbabweans who are already struggling to make ends meet,” he said.

“ZLHR has raised concerns on the failure by the Zimbabwean Government to put in place measures to revitalise the crumbling healthcare system and the grave consequences this has had on ordinary Zimbabweans.

“Most Zimbabweans cannot afford the new gazetted fees. This is worsened by the fact that the new fees are not matched by any general increase in income for the generality of the population.”

He said people suffering from chronic diseases such as kidney failure and cancer will require an estimated $300 per week to access services.

“People without health insurance, those suffering from chronic illnesses, the elderly and women will be the worst affected,” he said.

“Invariably, the cost will be passed onto the patients whose lives and health are placed in further jeopardy by this arbitrary increase.

“As ZLHR, we always do what we can do,” Chimbga said yesterday.

“Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we do not. We take these cases to court, we litigate on people who are affected by these policies and we try and get orders that stop such happenings.”

A new fee structure which immediately pushed general practitioners (GP) consultation fees up by almost 100 percent was published in a Government Gazette last Friday.

Zimbabweans are now required to pay $35 to consult a general practitioner from $20. Follow-up consultations now attract $30. Previously it was $15.

Chimbga said the development is a manifestation of a government lacking in creativity, coupled with a forgiving public.

“Government is in sixes and sevens; it does not know what it is doing,” Chimbga said.

“What we are seeing here is a result of absence of policy, legislative framework and no one holds government to account. Now people have forgotten about Cashbert (Cuthbert Dube) and Premier Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas).

“We work with the ministry on issues to do with health rights but when they have a decision they want to make, they do not consult us. We wake up to a headline in the media.”

Chimbga said the tariff increase was unconstitutional.

“When they say progressive realisation, there is recognition to maintain and find ways to move forward. At the first instance, the step that has been taken by the ministry is a regression. That already is a violation of the right to health,” he said.

Paul Chimedza, deputy minister of Health and Child Care, has defended the new fee structure saying it will help retain doctors.

However, Chimbga argues Zimbabwe’s crisis is that of a leadership with vested interests in national policies, policy makers who sacrifice the masses.

“Then we have Chimedza defending, already it shows there is a problem and he is an interested party, he has a surgery,” Chimbga said.

“Saying raising fees is for the retention of doctors, that is an absurd statement. Have they asked themselves who will pay? It is a scapegoat solution.”

Chimbga called on government to take measures to expand access to equitable and universal health services by adopting measures that will make the healthcare system accessible to everyone, not only the people with money.

“It must be borne in mind that Zimbabwe is in a new constitutional dispensation,” he said.

“Section 76 of the Constitution guarantees the right to quality and affordable healthcare services.

“This responsibility includes the efficient, effective and equitable management of public resources for healthcare for all Zimbabweans, particularly the poor and marginalised populations.”

Rights lawyers emphasised the need for a coherent plan, clear policies, accountability and transparency in the health sector.



  • comment-avatar
    zanupf fear me 8 years ago

    We can’t all go to Singapore or sand ton as zanupf do for their std

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    Observer 8 years ago

    Meanwhile,govt is not remitting deductions from civil servants and govt pensioners to medical aid societies incl PSMAS.Even retail lenders are not getting their money.Clearly Chimedza and Pari have surgeries.The doctors they employ in govt hospitals are refusing to treat patients unless the patients come via their surgeries THEN they use govt facilities to treat the patients.AND NO ONE IS EVEN QUESTIONED.

  • comment-avatar

    Even the sick might have to take to the streets.

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    nyoni 8 years ago

    If the whole of Zimbabwe are sick and dying who will take to the streets then. No wonder Dzino disowned Zanu .

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    dennis chikuve 8 years ago

    The die is cast! The people have spoken. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have become the prophetic voice and this hopefully is the beginning of accountability by the government. Too many innocent lives continue to be lost because of the high costs of medical insurance while the chefs and board members for the PSMAS have devoured millions of dollars in allowances. Thank you ZLHR for this action and for your courage.

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    John Thomas 8 years ago

    The health sector cannot be fixed by price control. All Zimbabweans have seen the damage done to other areas of the economy by price control efforts. 2005 – 2008 should still be fresh in all Zimbabwean minds. How is it possible that the health sector would be different?

    Between the government and the doctors trade union all efforts are made to ensure that there is always a shortage of doctors. This is what keeps prices high.

    None of our educated eggheads is commenting on this. Could it be that so many of them are benefitting from this type of monopolistic behaviour that they do not wish to rock the boat?

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    Doris 8 years ago

    Couldn’t afford it before the hike. Consequently, those fortunate to be on medical aid are in a position to go to clinics and doctors who don’t demand cash up front. Catch 22. Now doctors can’t afford to carry on cos the medical aid societies take so long to pay.

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    Govt full of thieves,what do u expect?Chase them away

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    Petal 8 years ago

    Hope is in the ZHRL for the sake of those who are suffering while those thieving scum bags go abroad for treatment and go to sleep on a full belly

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    Fundani Moto 8 years ago

    This is the fundamental problem of having government ministers running businesses which fall under their ministries. The minister and his deputy are more interested in the furtherance of their private practices (surgeries) than the welfare of the masses. There is a clear conflict of interests here, these guys have to choose between the ministry or their private practices; they should not have both.

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    Saddened 8 years ago

    Firstly I have not come across a single ‘poor’ doctor in this country even though the rates charged are much lower than say in RSA. What government has failed to take into account is the inability of the average person to afford the increased charges. In this day & age it is totally unacceptable that we have increases of 75 & 100%.

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    Petal 8 years ago

    the people should stop using the practices owned by minister and his deputy