Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent
Government is in the process of setting up a regulatory body to oversee the activities of medical aid societies in line with the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa has said. A number of medical aid societies are facing difficulties that are adversely affecting service delivery and exposing their members.

In a speech read on his behalf by provincial medical director for Matabeleland North Dr Nyasha Masuka while officially opening the Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe Annual All Stakeholders Conference in Victoria Falls on Wednesday, Dr Parirenyatwa said Government would soon be carrying out stakeholder consultations.

“My ministry will be setting up a regulatory body to oversee the activities of medical aid societies in line with Zim-Asset. We therefore would be carrying out stakeholders’ consultations regarding this development. More importantly, we need to come up with an effective structure and to decide how the body will be funded in a sustainable way,” he said.

Dr Parirenyatwa said Government wanted to see good governance in medical aid societies.

“We expect that funders’ trustees should undergo regular refresher training on governance to keep speed with new trends,” he said.

Dr Parirenyatwa underscored the need to give the health sector a facelift to improve efficiency.

“The Government is aware that in order to introduce an efficient National Health Insurance Scheme, there is need to upgrade infrastructure at public institutions and improve staff compliments so that the majority of the patients will get healthcare services from the public institutions.

“This prerequisite is a key success factor, which requires support through Public Private Partnerships,” he said.

Dr Parirenyatwa said Government would also be consulting stakeholders to come up with a sustainable NHIS model tailor-made for Zimbabwe.

He said Government was exploring various funding models given that over 80 percent of the economy is informal.

AHFoZ chief executive officer, Mrs Shylet Sanyanga, said job losses resulting from the July 17 Supreme Court ruling threatened the viability of medical aid socities.

“It is reported that in addition to the numbers that had previously lost their jobs, over 20 000 people lost their jobs since July 2015 following the Supreme Court judgment on termination of employment.

“AHFoZ members report that they have been notified by some of their employer organisations that they had terminated some employees on three months notices. The effects of these terminations will be known after the three months’ notice since employees remain on medical aid whilst serving the notice. The negative impact from this development will be felt by the end of the year,” she said.

Mrs Sanyanga said there was no doubt that further reduction in membership figures would threaten the viability of the sector as medical aid societies required volumes to remain viable.