Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
MEDICAL doctors have been accused of abandoning their duties at health institutions to concentrate on their private surgeries thereby compromising health service delivery at public hospitals.
People who attended consultative meetings meant to gather views of the public on the Health Bill in Binga and Hwange bemoaned poor health delivery systems at public hospitals.
Contributors were not happy with a section in the draft Bill which states that only registered medical doctors are eligible for the position of district health officers.
The draft Bill states that there should be a district health officer appointed by the advisory board.
“Hospitals are failing to provide services because doctors have to do administration work to supervise staff when they should be attending to patients. In most cases they are also not at the hospital as they spend time at their private clinics,” said a participant.
The participants said the draft Bill must compel government to pay medical doctors competitive salaries to motivate them to be at public hospitals than at their private surgeries.
Turning to the appointment of district health officers, participants said it is discriminatory to reserve the position for medical doctors when there are other qualified health practitioners who can equally take up the post.
They said the post should be open to anyone on merit.
“The Bill states that only those who are registered as medical doctors are eligible for appointment as district medical officers. We feel this is discriminatory.
If local authorities can appoint anyone to be a health practitioner, what makes the post of district medical health officer different?
“The position should be made out to anyone with relevant qualification in the health sector. Why should it be restricted to medical doctors when there could be some people better qualified?” asked a participant.
Participants said the Bill should be clear on who should constitute the board of directors for any particular health institution as they called for inclusion of youths and people living with disabilities.
Participants said provincial and district hospitals should be made mandatory while there should also be compulsory immunisation against children diseases.
Hwange and Binga residents concurred that the Bill was overdue especially looking at Matabeleland North which has no provincial hospital while Hwange, Lupane and Umguza have no district hospitals. Lack of proper facilities, resources and manpower at health facilities were noted as some of the challenges that need to be urgently addressed through the proposed law.
Chairperson of the HIV and Aids Thematic committee Mrs Lillian Timveos said the issue of appointment of doctors was topical.
“This is the 6th leg as we wrap up our consultations and what’s obtaining is that people are complaining that doctors are never at hospitals.
“What people are saying is that doctors are always not at health institutions especially district hospitals as they spend time at their private surgeries at the expense of people’s lives.
“They are saying doctors need to be there all the time between 8am and 5pm to attend to patients,” said Mrs Timveos.
The Health Act was enacted in 1924 hence most of its provisions are now outdated.
The Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care together with the HIV and Aids Thematic committee have been carrying out countrywide consultations to gather people’s views on what should be included in line with the Constitution.