Before the recent harvest we assumed people were dying of hunger. But in the last few months they have had food in abundance and they are still dying. I have realized that they cannot raise money to seek medical attention. While there may have been an improvement in the economy lately, the situation is pathetic in the rural areas, said the traditional leader.
He said the situation was worsened by the pricing regime in rural areas.
There is no money in rural areas – yet this is where commodities are very expensive. Shops are charging as much as double the prices in towns. As a result the people living here have been reduced to destitution. They come to my homestead in their numbers to ask for money to go to hospital. At the hospitals everyone is made to pay whether they are TB patients or HIV/AIDS patients, added the chief.
He appealed to the government to devise ways of reducing medical fees in the rural areas and for the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to monitor the happenings at rural health centres. He noted with concern that children under the age of five and people over 60 were not given the free treatment as government policy dictated they should.
Last week Health and Child Welfare Minister Henry Madzorera said measures were being put in place to make sure that patients who are not supposed to pay were not made to pay in government hospitals.