Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
THE Government has instituted a forensic audit of medical aid societies with a view to deregister those found flouting operational guidelines making healthcare inaccessible through corruption, a cabinet minister has said
The development comes amid revelations that the Government is drafting the National Health Insurance Scheme Bill which is expected to regulate operations of public and private health service providers in line with national aspirations for accessible primary healthcare for all among a raft of other measures.
In a speech read on his behalf by Minister of State in the Vice President’s office, Major General (Rtd) Sibangumuzi Khumalo while officially opening the 2022 Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZiMA) Annual Conference in Victoria Falls yesterday, Vice President General (Retired) Dr Constantino Chiwenga who is also Health and Child Care Minister said Government aspires to realise improved health outcomes for all, including the vulnerable and the marginalised guided by Vision 2030 and the National Development Strategy (NDS1).
It also aims to accelerate the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals, the African Agenda 2063 and ensure universal health coverage. He said Government has initiated various major reforms to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and integrity of the health service.
“Government is determined to finalise development of a comprehensive National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). A draft roadmap for the National Health Insurance Scheme has been approved by Cabinet and the Ministry has since developed a clear policy paper to guide the National Health Insurance Scheme process.
“Work will commence soon to develop the legal framework of the National Health Insurance Scheme Bill. Let me assure you that the scheme will be implemented by both the public and private health sectors,” said Dr Chiwenga.
He said Government will continue to strengthen regulation of private health insurance and medical aid societies, at a time when co-payment and corruption within medical aids was a cause for concern in the country.
“We want them to stick to their mandate, that is, to ensure that the wage earner’s medical bills are fully paid and timeously. In that regard, the Ministry will not hesitate to deregister any errant medical aid society. We have instituted forensic audit to some and we are still waiting for the audit observations. This way, the providers of care, the funders and members will be satisfied,” said Dr Chiwenga.
The Ministry of Health is aligning health legislation to the Constitution and a number of policies and strategies have been developed, with more, including systems to ensure timely and effective disaster preparedness and responses, being worked on.
Dr Chiwenga said there was noted improvement in key health outcomes such as maternal mortality, malaria incidence and mortality rates, HIV incidence, Aids-related mortality among other conditions.
He said Government has also commenced the development of a comprehensive multi-sectoral Non-Communicable Disease Strategy and a Cancer Prevention and Control Plan after realisation that the country is facing a dual burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases.
A National Eye Health Strategy and a comprehensive Surgical, Obstetrics and Anesthesia Plan has also been completed to revamp emergency and surgical services, as well as reducing stunting and malnutrition.
Dr Chiwenga said Government was accelerating implementation of the Health Financing Strategy aimed at ensuring that innovative financing mechanisms are operationalised. He commended health workers for their resilience and dedication to serving the nation and said Government was seized with improving the conditions of service for the health care staff.
Dr Chiwenga said the private sector had a critical role to play in health in Zimbabwe, and implored such players like Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZiMA) to fully participate in the turnaround of the health development at all levels guided by fundamentals of good corporate governance as well as shun malpractices.
Dr Chiwenga invited health professionals in the diaspora to invest back home and reiterated Government’s commitment to initiatives towards achieving the ease of doing business.
“As a country, we cannot continue sending patients outside Zimbabwe nor continue importing medicines and consumables,” said Dr Chiwenga.
The theme for the conference which started on Thursday and ending today is “Beyond Covid-19 Pandemic: Expanding healthcare delivery services”, which Dr Chiwenga said captures the thrust of Government to avail health services to the population.
ZiMA president Dr Francis Chiwora said the conference sought to deliberate on strategies of solving challenges brought by Covid-19 and innovations that could be applied to improve health care. Over 200 ZiMA members physically attended the conference while others followed proceedings virtually. @ncubeleon