Pari, leave private hospitals alone


David Parirenyatwa is one of the few ministers who has really stuck to his business, that of ensuring that his ministry runs. He has rarely departed from his core business, that of health, but it seems the ZANU-PF disease of politicising everything is catching up with him.

Why in all honesty would he want to regulate fees in the private health sector, unless this is purely for political expediency. Surely, though he was only elevated to minister, he has spent so many years effectively running the ministry that he ought to know that meddling will only makes matters worse.

The health sector has lost thousands of nurses and tens of doctors because of government meddling. Services at most government hospitals are appalling. Patients have to buy their own medicines including drips.

Hospital staff is so demoralised the only thing that is keeping them at work is the salary that has recently been adjusted. And some are simply there because they have nowhere else to go or have nothing else to do. Of course, there are some bad apples, like in every field, but there are some dedicated health workers who cannot serve the nation simply because hospital or clinic pharmacies are empty.

Does Parirenyatwa want to reduce private hospitals to the same level? Indeed, while they are in the business to make money, they are also there to serve. If they provide shoddy service, people shun them and they close down.

People are running away from government or council clinics and hospitals because of the poor service. They are prepared to pay higher fees because they expect better service. Instead of meddling in the affairs of private health facilities, Parirenyatwa should put his house in order.

If government hospitals improve their service, people will flock back to them. Please doc, keep up what you have been doing, sticking to your business of ensuring that nurses and doctors get good remuneration.

Now make sure your hospitals are adequately staffed. After that make sure essential drugs are available, even at a cost. Leave private hospitals alone.

People may be poor but they can afford anything they really want. And they are very innovative. And they know the value for money.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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