VICE-PRESIDENT Constantino Chiwenga yesterday threatened to deregister errant medical aid societies, accusing them of gross malpractices, failure to abide by the rule book, including abuse of funds and breach of corporate governance guidelines.
Chiwenga, who doubles as Health and Child Care minister, made the threats in a speech read on his behalf by Minister of State in his office, Sibangumuzi Khumalo, at the ongoing 2022 Zimbabwe Medical Association annual conference in Victoria Falls.
He said the ministry was strengthening the regulation of private health insurance and medical aid societies.
“We want them to stick to their mandate, that is, to ensure that the wage earners’ medical bills are fully paid and timeously. In that regard, the ministry will not hesitate to deregister any errant medical aid society,” Chiwenga said.
In 2018, Chiwenga fired thousands of striking nurses in his capacity as the superintendent of the government’s social services cluster, but the decision was later reversed.
Last year, Cabinet announced plans to regulate medical aid societies following plans to establish a medical aid societies regulatory authority.
In May this year, the Medical Services Amendment Bill was published in the Gazette to regulate operations of medical aid societies
The new regulatory body will fall under the purview of the Health and Child Care ministry.
“We have instituted a forensic audit on some and we are still waiting for the audit observations. This way, the providers of care, the funders and members will be satisfied,” Chiwenga added.
Results of an audit instituted at Premier Service Medical Aid Society are yet to be known, while workers at Premier Service Medical Investments called for the government to fire the board and its directors for gross mismanagement.
“A number of policies and strategies have been developed and more are still being worked on,” Chiwenga said, adding that public health surveillance and disaster preparedness and response would also be improved going forward.
Meanwhile, Chiwenga is set to open this year’s Association of Health Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) annual all-stakeholders’ conference on health scheduled for September 14 to 17.
Alpha Media Holdings, the publishers of NewsDay, Southern Eye, The Standard, Zimbabwe Independent and Weekly Digest as well as proprietors of online radio and television station Heart & Soul, are media partners of the event.
AHFoZ chief executive Shylet Sanyanga said last year’s event was also officially opened by Chiwenga.
Economist Persistence Gwanyanya will give an economic outlook and likely impact on the health sector.
Other speakers include World Health Organisation country representative Alex Gasasira and outspoken Kenyan motivational speaker, Patrick Lumumba, among several others.
AHFoZ was formerly the National Association of Medical Aid Societies (NAMAS).
The NAMAS, formed in 1969, changed its name to AHFoZ in 2004.