By Kenneth Matimaire
Mutare, August 19, 2016 – PEOPLE Living With HIV (PLWH) on Friday held a peaceful march to protest against the unilateral hike of health user fees at health institutions under the City of Mutare on Friday.
The march was supported by various organisations such as the Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme (DOMCCP), Family Aids Support Organisation (FASO) and Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV (ZNNP+).
The aggrieved HIV patients marched from Sakubva to the government complex where they presented their petition to the office of the Resident Provincial Affairs Minister, Mandi Chimene.
They were irked by the unilateral increase of a wide range of health related services at all council clinics by city authorities.
This saw council imposing an increase of between 100 to 400 percent on health related services.
Consultation fee for children is now $5 up from $2 while adult charges were hiked from $2 to $9.
Maternity registration has also been increased from $15 to $35 while it now costs one $15, up from $5, to hire the municipal ambulance.
Several other health services were illegally hiked without consultations as prescribed by the Urban Councils Act.
RadioVOP gathered that only one consultation was conducted in Ward 1, Sakubva, which abruptly ended as tempers flared against 19 Wards that were supposed to be covered.
However, PLWH have been the most affected. This has forced the community to take to the streets demanding council to revise its unjust decision.
ZNNP+ official and PLWH provincial advocacy chairperson Casper Paundi described the unilateral user fee hike as a denial of their Right to Health.
“We decided to make a protest as well as petition the Minister of State for Manicaland Province (Mandi Chimene) to intervene. We have also handed our petition to her office to show our displeasure to what the council did. You know user fees have gone from $2 to $9, ambulance (hire) now cost $15 from $5, and maternity fees are now $35. We see this as a denial of our Right to Health,” said Paundi.
He said they are hopeful that council will consider their plea considering the hard economic situation that has most affected PLWH.
“We think the issue will be addressed since PLWH were not consulted. Increase in user fees only makes life very difficult for PLWH considering the current economic situation,” he said.
Mutare mayor, councillor Tatenda Nhamarare said his council was trying to address the anomaly.