Public and Private Partnerships (PPPs) have given Chitungwiza Central Hospital (CCH) a new lease of life with the public health institution now offering specialised services comparable or even better than those provided by some state of the art private hospitals.
BY FELUNA NLEYA
The government has been failing to improve health facilities at most public health institutions in Zimbabwe where run down equipment and shortage of qualified personnel have characterised most government hospitals.
The PPP approach embraced by Chitungwiza hospital is in line with regional and international trends and has played an important part in bolstering healthcare infrastructure and service delivery at the public institution.
Chitungwiza is in a strategic partnership with various stakeholders aimed at seeing the hospital giving its patients first class service at affordable fees.
CCH chief executive officer, Obadiah Moyo said the hospital had engaged private players in an effort to afford “Five Star” services to the socially disadvantaged people at a low cost.
Moyo said the hospital was in joint venture partnerships in five areas, namely laboratory, radiology, catering services, mortuary and the pharmaceuticals department.
“There are three categories of patients and the beauty of the joint ventures is that they use the same user fees that have been approved by government,” he said.
Moyo said the PPPs meant that 20% of the socially disadvantaged in the town were able to access better and high quality services.
“Those who can afford to pay will pay at a low cost and those with medical aid will be able to get treatment too and this means the partners will also get some money. It’s a two way advantage to us,” he said.
Moyo recently told a Parliamentary portfolio committee on health that the partnerships had created a win-win situation between Chitungwiza Central Hospital and the private partners. This had tremendously improved service delivery at the hospital and transformed it into a world class service provider and centre of excellence.
“The private partners have carried out specific activities to rehabilitate the physical infrastructure and provide state of the art equipment in the full functioning of the targeted areas of Chitungwiza Central Hospital,” Moyo said.
“The PPPs strategy takes into account government policy that the disadvantaged members of society are catered for.”
Initial fears that the partnerships could have been driven by the profit motive where specialised services called for high fees have been allayed by the fact that the pricing model is governed by the Association of Health Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) approved rates which are in turn approved by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
“Thus there is no scope for arbitrage behaviour or rent seeking at the expense of the patients,” Moyo said. “The financial viability of the partnerships is a function of volume and quality rather than price margins.”
At Chitungwiza hospital, an ophthalmologist and ophthalmology nurses have set up a unit that compares with any other private units.
“A full range of eye testing and eye surgery equipment is now in place, cataract removal, and other specialist eye surgical procedures are being done routinely. Services have been enhanced through a small Ophthalmology PPP,” Moyo said.
The Hospital is providing bicarbonate haemodialysis for free with 16 patients being treated per day. The number of patients continues to increase and a cost recovery plan has been established, enabled through a PPP with Dialife.
Chitungwiza hospital has also established a PPP with Baines Imaging Group. Through this arrangement the Hospital now has access to Ultrasound, CT Scans and MRI services with the socially disadvantaged being catered for.