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By Paidashe Mandivengerei
Local anti-corruption body, Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) has accused doctors employed in public hospitals of making unnecessary and illegal referrals to woe desperate patients to their private surgeries.
In its latest report on corruption in the public health sector in Zimbabwe, the anti-graft lobby group said public health medical practitioners and specialists were using uncouth means to attract clients to the healthcare private sector where they own surgeries.
In recent years, Zimbabwe has witnessed a sprout of private medical surgeries
in its major cities and towns which citizens largely rely on as the public healthcare sector is deteriorating.
Public hospitals and clinics are also dilapidated; lack medical equipment and drugs.
Moreso, medical professionals who are constantly up in arms with the government over poor remuneration and bad working conditions are dejected and a sizeable number of specialists, including nurses, have left the country for greener pastures.
“Since 1991, there has been a tremendous increase and growth of private healthcare centres largely underpinned by an extensive private sector health insurance system and government policy support for private sector involvement,” the TIZ report reads.
“This has facilitated medical specialists and general practitioners to open private health facilities whilst rendering their services in the public sector.”
A number of employers and or workers at private health sector double as specialists in the public healthcare institutions creating room for them to make these ‘false referrals’.
Private healthcare services are steeply charged in foreign currency.
“It was stated that doctors usually recommend patients to go to their private facilities where they are charged exorbitant fees for seeking healthcare.
“Whilst there is evidence of lack of drugs and equipment in public hospitals, this creates a notion that private hospitals or clinics have better services leading to exorbitant charges in those private facilities,” the TIZ report added.