Health rights groups raise red flag over free renal services

COMMUNITY Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike has called on government to craft a sustainable funding mechanism in order to provide effective and consistent free renal services at public hospitals.


Itai Rusike
Rusike told NewsDay yesterday that while they commended government’s move to provide free renal dialysis to financially-disadvantaged citizens who are not on medical aid cover, there was need for a clearly outlined long-term and sustainable funding mechanism to ensure that there was continuity.

“The idea is good because we know some patients have been going through some catastrophic expenditure, but what we call for is sustainable long-term funding for this because at the moment, people still have doubts,” Rusike said.

“Government is not clear in terms of long-term sustainable funding for this and we are afraid that this could be mere political grandstanding, so we are saying no because at the end of the day, it is the ordinary citizen that suffers.”

Renal dialysis is a medical procedure to remove waste from bodies of patients experiencing kidney challenges.

The life-saving procedure normally costs between $150 and $200 per session.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa last week disclosed that government was now offering free renal dialysis to disadvantaged patients using money collected under the Health Levy Fund.

“If they are doing this (using the Health Levy Fund), it shows indiscipline on the part of the government because as far as we are concerned, the Health Levy was for purposes of addressing drug shortages and obsolete equipment in our hospitals,” Rusike said.

Citizens Health Watch trustee Fungisai Dube said the move was more of a political policy without any sound financial backing and she called on the government to expeditiously put clear and sound systems instead of selling citizens a dummy.

“The problem is this is more of a political policy without any financial backing. If with the health levy fund we still have no medicines, then how is it going to also fund free renal dialysis?”