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Opinion / Columnist

Zimbabwe leaders must simply fix health care system

23 Apr 2018 at 11:48hrs | Views
Vice President Kembo Mohadi has gone abroad for medical treatment. The reason for exercising this choice is pretty obvious: he lacks confidence in the Zimbabwe health systems and can also afford the trip given that the expenses are paid for by taxpayers.

Because of this, our leaders have little motivation to change the status quo. This increasing medical tourism by our leaders is tragic coming after government on April 17, the eve of Zimbabwe's independence, fired nurses employed at State-run hospitals, who had been on a work boycott protesting against poor salaries and unfavourable working conditions.

Mohadi's compatriot, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who heads the social services cluster, announced that government would replace the dismissed nurses with retired and unemployed qualified nurses and accused the striking health practitioners of being influenced by political motives in staging their protest.

It is sad that our leaders are seeking treatment abroad at a time public health systems are in a depressing condition. Preventable diseases such as cholera and typhoid still kill a large number of women and children, people travel long distances to receive health care, and across the country patients sleep on hospital floors. On top of this, underpaid health professionals emigrate in droves to search for greener pastures. Those who stay and protest poor salaries are summarily fired.

Even the State rights body has uncharacteristically slammed local leaders for seeking emergency medical treatment in foreign hospitals in a damning statement expressing concern over the recent impasse between the government and doctors.

Due to the inadequate and poor facilities in most public health institutions, the leaders within the government of Zimbabwe generally shun the services that are a product of their failed policies and decisions.

Instead, they seek treatment in private health facilities and even travel beyond Zimbabwean borders for health services.

This practice clearly displays a clear lack of confidence in the public health delivery system by our leaders and compromises commitment and resoluteness in ensuring the recovery of the system.

It can be argued that private citizens opting to seek medical help in other countries don't owe the public any explanation, because it's their own affair. But medical tourism among the political elite is a completely different kettle of fish and a big cause for concern, because they are responsible for the development of proper health care for the citizens of their countries.

Our leaders must simply fix the health care system. We can't all afford to fly abroad if we fall sick.

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Source - dailynews
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