Top Stories

Government considers legislating cap on medical aid

THE government is considering legislating for a cap on amounts that medical aid societies can use for overheads to ensure a large portion of the contributions they collect go towards providing services for members.

Health minister Douglas Mombeshora said this at the annual Zimbabwe Medical Association Scientific congress held in the capital on Friday.

Mombeshora, who was represented by Harare Provincial Medical Director (PMD), Innocent Hove, said the government is concerned with the failure by medical aid societies to manage their members contributions in a sustainable manner.

“Our medical aid societies should ensure that those who run funds do not just take subscriptions without providing a commensurate service,” he said.

 “The same efficiencies they have on collecting money should be cascaded to managing the fund, ensuring internal controls, instituting anti-fraud systems and payment of service providers. We will be firm about it and we will strengthen our capacity as a Ministry to regulate the industry going forward.”

He said the government desires to provide quality healthcare to citizens at an affordable cost. Mombeshora said the government led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa is fully committed to revamp the health sector as evidenced by the various occasions of handing over equipment to hospitals, a Cabinet Minister has said.

He cited the recent commissioning of the magnetic resonance imaging centre, the handing over of an assortment of medical equipment and vehicles at Parirenyatwa Group of hospitals by President Mnangagwa as testimony of the commitment of the Second Republic to improve the country’s health delivery system.

President Mnangagwa recently commissioned 77 dental chairs, 10 000 vital sign monitors, oxygen concentrators, glucometers, 36 ambulances, 15 ten-tone medicine distribution trucks and 28 staff buses to the institution.

Mombeshora bemoaned the high staff turn over by doctors in public hospitals after the government would have spent millions of dollars in training them, adding there is an urgent need to arrest the situation which is weakening the health delivery system further.

“We are losing millions of dollars in training and we feel that we should get a portion of that money by retaining our trained and qualified health professionals. We bear quite a cost to train a nurse and even more to train a medical doctor considering that we need to retain our investment which is our professionals,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, UNICEF representative Tajudeen Oyewale bemoaned the increase in the neonatal mortality rate in Zimbabwe in children under the age of five.

He said the neonatal mortality rate has increased from 27 to 32 deaths per 1 000 live births between 1990 and 2019 despite high coverage of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) interventions at 93 percent, antenatal care uptake at 93 percent and 71 percent, and institutional delivery with skilled birth attendants at 86 percent in 2019.

“As you know, the majority of neonatal deaths (75 percent) occur during the first week of life, associated with pre-term birth, intrapartum-related complications (birth asphyxia), infections and birth defects. From the end of the neonatal period and through the first 5 years of life, the main causes of death are pneumonia, diarrhoea, birth defects and malaria. Malnutrition is the underlying contributing factor, making children more vulnerable to severe diseases,” said Oyewale. — New Ziana

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *