The Government has increased user fees at public hospitals by 1 748% as the prices of bread and fuel also went up in recent days while salaries of civil servants were last reviewed (marginally) in February.
The user fees hike was revealed in a memo dated 1 June 2022, written by Health and Child Care ministry secretary Jasper Chimedza, and addressed to provincial medical directors, medical superintendents and public hospital chief executive officers.
New adult and children consultation fees have been pegged at US$12 and US$6, respectively.
These are equivalent to $3 696 and $1 848 in the local currency using the official exchange of US$1:$308.
Hospital fees were last increased in January 2020, with adults and children respectively paying $200 and $100 in Zimbabwe dollars at the time. The memo reads in part:
Reference is made to the hospital user fees circular dated April 19, and the Exchange Control Exclusive Use of Zimbabwe dollar for Domestic Transactions Amendment Regulations, 2020 no 3 (Statutory Instrument 185 of 2020).
Following the release convergence of the Exchange Control Directive No 3 of 2022, in line with the convergence of the auction exchange rates and the interbank willing-buyer willing-seller exchange rate, you are being advised to implement user fees in line with the current interbank exchange rates.
Consultation fees for adults are now US$12 and for children US$6. Ward fees for adults are set at US$12, and US$8 for children. A notice to the public hospitals reads:
Ambulance fees per kilometre US$1,60. Intensive/coronary care unit per day — adults now at $US16. Intensive/coronary care unit per day — children now at $US10.
The consultation fee is valid for seven days and chronic consultation fees are valid for one month.
The notice says patients may pay the new fees at the interbank rate, which stands at $325 to US$1 after Tuesday’s Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) forex auction.
Patients were paying almost half in user fees before the latest increase.