The red flag raised by the Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike on the need for government to present a sustainable funding mechanism to ensure renal patients can have access to effective and consistent free renal services at the country’s public hospitals could not have come at any better time.
In fact, we believe government should heed the advice to save unnecessary loss of life countrywide.
It is a good thing that the government has rolled out this programme to provide free renal dialysis to financially-disadvantaged citizens, who are not on medical aid cover.
However, what is more critical is ensuring that the programme is sustainable. This means the need for a clear long-term and sustainable funding mechanism is critical otherwise without that, the noble programme may flounder due to lack of financial resources.
It is not in doubt that the costs of health services in Zimbabwe have become too exorbitant that even people on medical insurance are struggling. Given that access to health is a basic and fundamental human right, it is important to ensure that something is done in this regard.
Multitudes of patients always dig deeper into their pockets to access the critical service, but given that the general cost of living in the country has skyrocketed, this, indeed, is not sustainable. It is against this backdrop that government should consider coming up with a clear and sustainable funding mechanism so that it goes beyond mere political grandstanding while thousands of citizens continue to suffer.
Currently, renal dialysis costs between $150 and $200 per session and this is way beyond the reach of majority ordinary Zimbabweans who are struggling to eke out a decent living against the backdrop of a harsh economic environment.
Clearly, the government must show that it feels for the majority poor people and ensure that they get the help they require. It is quite unfortunate that the government is now offering free renal dialysis to disadvantaged patients using money collected under the Health Levy Fund, which is supposed to cater for drug shortages and obsolete equipment in hospitals.
This is a sign of gross indiscipline, which can only be cured once the requisite mechanism of funding the health costs of those in need of renal dialysis is in place. This needs to be looked into as a matter of urgency.