Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT has increased hospital user fees and reintroduced maternity fees.
Health and Child Care Permanent Secretary Dr Agnes Mahomva announced the new hospital fees in a circular to hospitals dated December 31, 2019.
“The Ministry has approved new hospital fees with effect from the 1st of January 2020. Please note that the decision has been reached after taking into account the plight of the general populace as well as the inflationary environment that we are in. May you ensure immediate implementation of the new fees as per attached schedule,” read Dr Mahomva’s circular.
The circular also revealed that Government has reintroduced maternity fees that were scrapped to curb maternal and infant mortality.
Ante-natal general ward per day will cost $200 at Parirenyatwa Hospital, $160 at central hospitals such as Mpilo Centra Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), $120 at provincial hospitals and $80 at a district hospitals with the same amounts being charged for post-natal care.
Caesarean birth will cost $2 500 at Parirenyatwa Hospital $2 500 at central hospitals and $1 500 at provincial hospitals and $1 000 at district hospitals.
Patients admitted to a general ward will pay fees ranging between $80 and $200 for adults while children above five years of age will pay between $40 and $100. Outpatients receiving treatment at Parirenyatwa Hospital will pay a user fee of $200 while those at central hospitals will pay $160.
Patients at provincial hospitals like Gwanda Provincial Hospital will pay $120 while those receiving care at district hospitals such as Esigodini District Hospital will pay $80.
Children above the age of five years pay $100 for a general ward at Parirenyatwa Hospital, $80 at central hospitals, $60 at provincial hospitals and $40 at district hospitals.
The fees charged for a general ward for adults are the same as the fees for initial consultation at hospitals while subsequent consultation fees are pegged at $130 at Parirenyatwa hospital, $100 at central hospitals, $80 at provincial and $50 at district hospitals.
Subsequent consultation fees for chldren above five years are fixed at $60 at Parirenyatwa Hospital, $50 at central hospitals, $35 at provincial hospitals and $25 at district hospitals.
Consultation fees for chronic illnesses exclusive of drugs are fixed at $100 at Parirenyatwa hospital, $80 at central hospitals, $60 at provincial hospitals and $40 at a district hospitals for adults while children above the age of five pay $50 at Parirenyatwa hospital, $40 at central hospitals, $30 at provincial hospitals and $20 at district hospitals. The Intensive Care Unit fees for adults at Parirenyatwa hospital are pegged at $260, $200 for central hospitals, $150 at provincial hospitals and $100 at district hospitals while fees for children above five years are pegged at $130 at Parirenyatwa hospital, $100 at central hospitals, $80 at provincial hospitals and$50 at district hospitals.
Psychiatric patients at Parirenyatwa Hospital will pay $200, $160 at central hospitals, $120 at provincial hospitals and $80 district hospitals.
An ambulance will charge $15 per kilometre while mortuary services will be fixed at $150 at Parirenyatwa hospital, $120 at central hospitals, $90 at provincial hospitals and $60 at district hospitals.
Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said the hospital was already implementing the new user fees.
He said hospitals user fees had become ridiculously low making it difficult for them to offer services. “The fees had become subeconomic as patients were paying as little as $17 consultation fees for example.”
A health practitioner who preferred not to be named said reintroducing maternity fees will affect gains made in fighting maternal deaths.
“I think it’s a retrogressive step. All the gains that were made by allowing mothers free access to ante-natal and post -natal health care have been reversed. Most women will now be forced to give birth at home thereby risking their lives and that of their babies.
“Recently we were celebrating that the mortality rates had dropped by 29 percent to 462 per 100 000 live births. This gain will definitely be reversed by the reintroduction of maternity fees. There is need for Government to re-visit the issue of maternity fees to save mothers and their babies,” said the practitioner.-@nqotshili