20 February 2013

Zimbabwe: 'No to Abuse of State Facilities'

GOVERNMENT has warned doctors against abusing State facilities and equipment for their private practices.

Health and Child Welfare Deputy Minister Douglas Mombeshora recently said doctors engage in such practices risk losing their licences.

Patients have also raised an outcry over some Government consultants who are directing patients to their surgeries from public hospitals.

The clients have complained of being referred to private institutions when public hospitals can handle such operations.

Public institutions charge cheaper fees than private clinics and hospitals.

Patients claimed that senior doctors allegedly advise them to seek treatment at their private practices.

The doctors allegedly tell patients that public institutions are not capacitated to carry out certain surgeries while the same practitioner could operate on patient at his private practice.

Deputy Minister Mombeshora said genuine cases should be indicated on a patient"s medical card.

Those who are doing it are aware that it is not acceptable and risk being restricted to Government practice only, Dr Mombeshora said.

He said doctors are allowed to go into private practice while working at Government institutions.

The deputy minister acknowledged they were reports of abuse of facilities.0

He however, added that no-one had come forward with a case against such practices.

Most patients are vulnerable to a lot of abuses because they fear they might get unfair treatment from the doctors but those doing it know that it is not acceptable, he said.

Deputy Minister Mombeshora said Governmment had, however, received reports of senior doctors who use facilities from public health institutions to conduct operations on their private surgeries.

"These things are happening but we want to warn those doing it that if found on the wrong side of the law, the board (Health Services Board) will deal with them accordingly," he said.

"We are trying to bring sanity in the health sector. We know some of them are charging very high fees."

A 24-year-old Harare woman who visited one of the central hospitals with her son who had a defect from birth was referred to a specialist dealing with the condition at the same institution but was referred to the doctor's private surgery in the Avenues area.

The unemployed woman said she could not afford the charges but was advised to negotiate with the doctor.

"I was told if he says let's negotiate he might ask for cows or goats to which I have none," she said.

In a similar case, another victim says his father was transferred from a private hospital to a public institution.

Although the patient was operated under a Government institution, payments were made at the doctor"s private rooms.

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