Parliament takes Zimbabwe health Minister to task- full Q & A


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HON. MATEWU: My supplementary question to the Minister of Health and Child Care is that how do you talk about access to health care and primary health care when we have most medical centres and most pharmacies charging people in US$ yet everyone earns in RTGS? How can you talk about that when most people cannot even access a US$? We have many patients that are dying because they do not have the US$ required to buy the medication. I thank you.

HON. DR. O. MOYO: I would like to thank the Hon. Member for coming up with that question because that is the topical issue at the moment – charging of medication in US$. That is unacceptable due to the shortage of foreign currency which everybody knows. We do not encourage the retail pharmacies to continue charging in US$. We are here as a Ministry to protect the public and that is exactly where we are moving to. We are making sure that the shortages that have happened will be taken care of. We are making sure that medicines will be available in our pharmacies and institutions.

It is an issue where we kindly request for a some time to be able to rectify. You will all realise that the US$ disappeared from the market. In the past, the retailers and wholesalers were able to action on their own but now they are all dependent on RBZ which has to come up with the foreign currency. There is a big shortage of foreign currency at the RBZ. I have personally made contacts with the RBZ Govenor and right now we realise that we have to control that scarce foreign currency because you will find that there are some institutions which were taking foreign currency and utilising it for their own benefit and not for the benefit of Zimbabweans.

We have decided to ensure that all those who are going against the regulations which we have stipulated on foreign currency will beheld answerable. Foreign currency, should be used strictly for the benefit of the population. We also realise that access to health and when I say access to health and the current situation, these are two things which are running parallel. The access to health is a programme which we have been running with all along and then comes this issue of the United States Dollar. Those are two different issues that we should not bundle into one. Access to health is something that we will continue with and make sure it is successful while at the same time we are rectifying this issue of shortage of United States currency with regards to shortage of medicine we are already talking to various partners to help us ensure that we get enough medicines in our warehouses. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

*HON. MATAMBANADZO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My supplementary is directed to the Minister of Health and Child Care. You have spoken well Minister that you would want to people to equitably access the health care but we would want the people listening to be happy as a result of my supplementary question. That should also allay any accusations that may be made to Government on the premise that it failed to fulfill its promise. Since it is a target, give us some timeline regarding how long it may take for people to be able to access the health care conditions that you have just laid down so that people will not dismiss you as just performing a mere talk show. I thank you.

HON. DR. O. MOYO: I want to thank Hon. Matambanadzo for the question he has asked. The question has made us much wiser and I will also respond wisely to the question. I will be factual and not fictitious Mr. Speaker Sir. The issue of us having a national health insurance has been on the cards for around 15 years now. It originated from the National Social Security Authority debate. It was peddled for over a long time well before I even became the Minister and I heard about it. When I came in, I said I want that objective to be fulfilled and at the moment we have consultants working on the documentation to ensure that we come up with a report that speaks to all the necessary areas. The report will be send to Cabinet and end up here in Parliament.

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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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