HARARE – Government has suspended private-public partnerships for hospitals, arguing the arrangements were not viable.
Speaking in the National Assembly last week, Health minister David Parirenyatwa said they were going to review the programme and see whether they can continue or not in the future.
“The issue of private-public-partnership started long ago but it was not visible.
“We had started off by having hospital canteens and privatized those as well as the security.
“Those who wanted to do security we invited them to come and that began way back in 1990, but now we are going towards services that are very commercial such as pharmacies,” he said.
“We did that with Chitungwiza Hospital and we have now got to a stage whereby we want to make an evaluation to see whether it is benefiting the hospital and the people or it is only benefiting those who are investing,” Parirenyatwa said.
“So, we have suspended the private-public-partnerships at present. We are waiting for a review of the documentation to see whether we should expand this programme or suspend it.
“We are waiting for that report to make an informed decision as to whether we can continue with public private partnerships.”
After Parirenyatwa’s sentiments, chairperson of the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Health and Child Care, Ruth Labode, said the private-public-partnerships were negatively affecting the poor people in Chitungwiza.
“Going back to the private-public-partnership at Chitungwiza, minister I do not know how you are reviewing because I think the people who should tell us whether that is working for them is the poor person in Chitungwiza who has no access to Chitungwiza Hospital and there is no other hospital.
“The only hospital they have is now private. If we are reviewing, let us not look at how much money Chitungwiza has made.”
“Let us look at whether the people from Chitungwiza can afford to go to Chitungwiza Hospital.
“We know there is an influx of people from Chitungwiza coming to Harare hospitals because they have no access to Chitungwiza Hospital.
“So in your review, please can you ensure that you protect and ask the ordinary Chitungwiza person whether they actually have access to the institution, not how nice it looks, no,” Labode said.
Chitungwiza Hospital has been a spring of comfort to thousands of residents over the years; however, after a private-public-partnership deal, many residents could not to accesses the facility because of higher charges.
Recently, nurses at Chitungwiza Hospital downed tools to demonstrate over the plight of patients who they said were paying the ultimate price for the hospital’s “outrageous want of money”.