Chiwenga Warns Hospitals Turning Away Patients Over COVID-19 Tests
Zimbabwe’s Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who is also the country’s Health and Child Care Minister, has warned hospitals turning away patients without covid-19 clearance certificates.
He also warned the medical institutions from charging exorbitant fees for covid-19 testing.
A Covid-19 test certificate is beyond the reach of many in Zimbabwe as a PCR test costs between US$20 and US$65 at private institutions while at public institutions it’s free for people identified during contact tracing.
By Wednesday Zimbabwe had recorded 122 Covid-19 deaths and 4 893 confirmed cases. Most of the deaths in Zimbabwe have been confirmed posthumously.
Nurses in the country are on strike demanding better working conditions such as protective clothing and better wages.
Speaking during a tour of Bulawayo Kraal Irrigation Scheme in Binga on Thursday, VP Chiwenga said health institutions should prioritise the protection of human lives.
Chiwenga said, “Government is aware of some hospitals which are turning away patients seeking medical help by demanding Covid-19 test certificates. Some hospitals are also taking advantage of the pandemic to charge exorbitant fees and we are saying that should stop.”
He added that Government will soon demand an explanation from hospitals which have been turning away patients or charging exorbitant fees. “No one has authority or right to turn away any person seeking help and we will be taking tough measures,” he said.
Chiwenga said hospitals should not take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to profiteer at the expense of people’s lives and said that Government is also in the process of procuring more PPE and testing kits.
“Let’s work together, Government on its part is buying more equipment, PPE and PCR test kits,” he said.
Chiwenga said Government was also working on equipping all hospitals including rural health centres.
“A healthy society means development. If we can’t keep our people healthy then we can’t develop our country,” he said.
VP Chiwenga said the country’s healthcare system is set for massive restructuring and reform with Government intending to rebuild the structures from village, district, provincial to referral hospitals.
The clean-up of the country’s health sector, Chiwenga said, is being done together with the Health Services Board and other ministries such as Finance and Economic Development.
“There will soon be massive restructuring of the Ministry of Health and Child Care and we are doing this together with HSB and the Finance Ministry. A further directive will come from the President after Cabinet briefing,” he said.