Patients refused treatment for failing to pay

Government has been urged to prioritise the health needs of citizens and ensure that heath institutions comply with the constitution when it comes to guaranteeing the treatment of people who can’t pay for medical emergencies.

In an exclusive interview with The Zimbabwean, the director of The Aids and Arts Foundation (TAAF), Emmanuel Gasa, said a lot of people were failing to get medical help at health centres such as referral hospitals because they had failed to pay the consultation fees.

Said Gasa: “We still have a lot of people who are dying because they can’t pay the required consultation fees. The challenge is that our government is good at enacting legislation that the policy-makers and government institutions cannot comply with. Someone will die because they are not attended to at a hospital,” he said.

Gasa said there was need to organise a health indaba at which all the stakeholders could identify failings in complying with the constitution.

“When you approach the district and provincial medial officers and directors, they will tell you that it is a directive from the top and yet the minister is saying something else, so who should we believe?” queried Gasa. He said an indaba would present a platform where all the relevant stakeholders could identify the office that was not complying, instead of pointing fingers at each other.

“There are decisions that are made secretly at the expense of citizens, yet the law says something else. We should name and shame such institutions that go against the people’s right to health,” he said.

He urged the health ministry to further consult stakeholders on how best to use the allocated money from treasury.

“Government’s inability to fund its own people’s health has meant relying on international donors to supplement health funding,” said Gasa.

“Money is used to buy cars instead of investing in infrastructural development. Most of the health institutions are dilapidated and there is no privacy, especially for HIV-positive patients,” he said.

The constitution guarantees every Zimbabwean the right to basic health services. Reads article 76: 3: “No person may be refused emergency medical treatment in any health care institution.”

Citizens however are denied treatment at most health institutions countrywide if they do not pay the required consultation fees ranging from $3 at local clinics to $10 at referral hospitals.

Post published in: Health

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