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Private doctors join Covid fight

BY MOSES MUGUGUNYEKI

The private health sector says it is ready to augment government efforts in the Covid-19 response programme and also help to maintain other essential health services in the country.

At the onset of the pandemic last year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advised heads of state and governments to prioritise the reduction of the spread of Covid-19 and mitigation of its impact.

Zimbabwe, like most African countries, had to cope with a poor healthcare system compounded by a hyperinflationary climate.

Patients, who could not be accommodated at the public health centres, had to turn to the private sector while those who could not afford, sometimes died.

It is against this backdrop that the government reached out to the private health sector for assistance in the Covid-19 response programme.

According to research commissioned by WHO in 2019, the private sector provides nearly 40% of health care across the majority of WHO regions, Zimbabwe included.

“We have been given the greenlight to manage and treat Covid-19 as private players. The idea is to augment government efforts in the response programme,” said Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Zimbabwe Association (MDPPZA) president Johannes Marisa.

MDPPZA is an inclusive body that includes nurses, medical doctors, dental therapists, dentists and laboratory scientists, among others.

Marisa said that part of the arrangement was that the private players would notify cases, abiding by clinical protocols for testing, isolation and treatment, and ensuring other barriers to care utilisation are eliminated.

“We are part of this response programme. We will ensure that we work alongside the government and provide them with necessary information for data,” he said.

“We have conveyed this message to our members across the country and we are now on the ground assisting the government.

“Some of us have helped top government officials and politicians and they can attest to the fact that we are in this together.

Marisa said private players had started supporting the vaccination roll out across the country.

He said most of their members were part of the Covid-19 response programme serving in different capacities including research, surveillance and laboratory diagnosis as well as risk communication healthcare capacity.

Marisa dismissed reports that the private health sector was profiteering from the pandemic.

“Our ultimate goal is to save lives,” he said.

“The input that we use in order to treat and manage this disease is expensive.

“We have staff working under risky conditions, they need incentives, we have medical equipment and drugs as well as support structures that help us deal with this pandemic.”

 

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