Thandeka Moyo, Chronicle Reporter
FOREIGN currency shortages led to the death of about 1 584 people who failed to access health care services due to pricing, statistics from the Association of Healthcare Funders Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) show.
According to the organisation, which has a membership of 35 medical aid societies countrywide, disparities in subscriptions and the Interbank rate of the US dollar has been compromising access as members are sometimes forced to pay shortfalls beyond their means.
In her speech during the national AHFoZ conference in Bulawayo yesterday, the chief executive officer, Ms Shylet Sanyanga, said shortages of forex had affected not only access but had eventually led to the death of some members.
“The Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe societies recorded 1 548 deaths ascribed to shortages of foreign currency for the period October 2018-April 2019. Of the total deaths, 732 were from the economically active 18- 65 age group while 185 were recorded from the under 18,” said Ms Sanyanga.
“The remaining 631 deaths were recorded from retired people aged over 65”.
She said it was necessary for subscriptions to be in line with the interbank rate to enable medical aid societies to discharge their mandate.
“On patient hospital fees, drugs pathology had the highest consumers accounting for 19 percent, 16 percent and 11 percent of costs respectively. We therefore wish we could have a scenario where member subscriptions were in line with what service providers are charging as we are struggling to keep up with the economic challenges.”
Ms Sanyanga AHFoZ was also marking its 50th anniversary of dedicated service in the health care sector.
AHFoZ said medical aid societies have been receiving numerous complaints from their members and employer organisations over the initial increases in contributions as salaries are not going up.
The Government has warned private doctors, medical aid societies and pharmacies that it might soon be forced to gazette health fees to protect suffering patients from errant practitioners charging in US dollars.
The Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo on Thursday told health care funders that many people who still earn salaries in RTGS$ have suffered at the hands of health care providers who present unaffordable options for treatment.
In a speech read on his behalf by the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) chief executive officer, Mrs Nonhlanhla Ndlovu, during the official opening of the 2019 AHFoZ conference, Dr Moyo said it was necessary for Government to deliver citizens from such operations. — @thamamoe