There has been national outrage after President Mugabe accused doctors of being greedy. President Mugabe made these remarks at the burial of fallen hero Brigadier-general Felix Muchemwa who died in Egypt seeking medical attention.
Mugabe said the current crop of doctors was different from the likes of Dr Muchemwa and Dr Sekeramayi who had made personal sacrifices for their country during the liberation struggle.
The same cannot be said about the current crop of doctors who announced that they would no longer be accepting medical aid from the first of July.
But a closer look at things reveals that Mugabe created these greedy doctors through anti poor policies and neglecting of public health institutions. The rise of private health practices is as a result of the breakdown in public health services.
Mugabe probably panicked because civil servants including security officers are on Public Service Medical Aid Society and if these fail to access health care it could spell disaster for his government.
Only just over 1 million Zimbabweans are covered by medical aid. 11 million Zimbabweans are said not to be on medical aid. The country also doesn’t have any sort of medical insurance for its citizens.
Mugabe’s government owes PSMAS $186 million dollars and it has been reported that the government has not been remitting contributions to the medical aid society. Public officials including Mugabe’s spokesman and his health minister have been implicated in scandals involving the medical aid society money.
But in his usual hypocrisy, Mugabe has opted to blaming sanctions and doctors for the situation without critically examining his own incompetence and corruption leading to this situation. What has he done with those accused of dipping their fingers in the public health coffers?
In 2015 the government budgeted only $350 million for the health sector. The patient to doctor ratio is 1. 6:10000 meaning there is a huge demand for medical doctors. The country is not training enough doctors and the few that are churned out leave the country for greener pastures.
The health sector has been relying on donor funds for a long time. Only private health institutions are decently equipped with the majority of doctors preferring to work at their private practices. In the last four years the country has seen an increase in private health with the opening of institutions such as Corporate 24 and Rock Foundation.
Some of these institutions run their own medical aid societies. Government encouraged private investment in Healthcare without promoting similar investment in public health.Mugabe has pursued elitist policies in Healthcare preferring to promote private health care at the expense of public health institutions.
The result of his approach is clear. Public hospitals have no equipment, drugs or adequate personnel. Private hospitals on the other hand are adequately resourced but out of the reach of the majority of Zimbabweans. Owners of these institutions want to make a profit and therefore charge high fees for their services.
Meanwhile him and his inner circle are always out of the country in search of quality medical care in other countries. He is always in Singapore for medical checkups and his daughter recently gave birth in the same country. Mugabe must look in the mirror to find the real reason why medical services have become inaccessible to poor Zimbabweans.