Zimbabweans who have been forced to endure high cost of medical services are hopeful that the results of the scientific study on tariffs initiated by the Association of Health Care Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFOZ) and the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) will restore sanity and ensure affordability of healthcare services.

The scientific study commenced on the 4th of July and is set to be completed on the 4th of next month and is meant to come up with a scientifically standardised tariff regime relevant to the obtaining economic environment.

The study is also set to resolve the impasse between healthcare funders and service providers over tariffs.

Association of Health Care Funders of Zimbabwe CEO, Ms Shylet Sanyanga told the health stakeholders who graced the association’s just concluded 2017 annual conference that the study is almost complete and expressed satisfaction that the outcomes will bring transparency in fees setting.

The Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Cde Aldrin Musiiwa said the government is hopeful the researched tariff will bring to an end the perennial quarrels and the much need relief to patients.

Both AHFOZ and service providers have however made submissions that tariffs derived from the research should be more of guidelines rather than being rigid and mandatory, to  enable service providers and medical aid societies to negotiate discounts and premiums, provided that they do not exceed the agreed national tariffs.

Meanwhile, Cde Musiiwa reaffirmed the government’s position not to punish the health care industry under the proposed Medical Societies Act.

“We are going to carry out sufficient consultations in order to come up with a progressive piece of legislation. We intend to improve quality of life for the majority of the country’s citizens, so we are aware of the need to nurture the obtaining health care system. Drastic actions such as suspension and deregistration will certainly be the last option in resolving compliance issues,” said Cde Musiiwa.

With many stakeholders questioning the relevance of the regulatory authority as proposed under the bill, Cde Musiiwa said contrary to the misconceptions, the entity will not be set up to deal with tariffs alone but rather to be an agent for the creation of a conducive environment for all players in the healthcare ecosystem.

Latest statistics from AHFOZ indicate that the number of lives covered by medical aid insurance stood at 1.3 million in 2016 out of a population of 14 million.

According to the government, there is need for the medical aid societies to expand their membership by targeting the informal sector.