by Shadreck Maririmba
December 04 2018 – MANY patients in Zimbabwe facing medicine shortages and exorbitant prices are now buying supplies in neighboring SA as well as getting healthcare, much to Pretoria’s chagrin, which says foreigners are burdening its healthcare system.
A snap survey at pharmacies Harare and patients showed that hypertension patients are at more risk as the prices of their medicines have become expensive and are vanishing from the shelves quickly. Making the situation worse are pharmacies now demanding payment in foreign currency.
Some of the types of medicines that are fast disappearing are High Blood Pressure tablets such as Nifedipine, Atenolol and Hydrochlorothiazide.
Amid the healthcare crisis next door SA has complained that foreigners are burdening its healthcare systems.
Recently SA Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi caused an uproar when he said foreigners were burdening his country’s public health system.
Media say the the minister told a meeting of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union in Johannesburg that “The weight that foreign nationals are bringing to the country has got nothing to do with xenophobia… it’s a reality. Our hospitals are full, we can’t control them”.
He reportedly called for more hospitals and clinics to be established and adding : “A woman is pregnant and about to deliver a baby, you can’t turn her away from the hospital and say you are a foreign national… you can’t. And when they deliver a premature baby, you have got to keep them in hospital. When more and more come, you can’t say the hospital is full now go away… they have to be admitted, we have got no option – and when they get admitted in large numbers, they cause overcrowding, infection control starts failing”.
But in Musina a receptionist at a private surgery who preferred anonymity said 70% of their clients are Zimbabweans.
“Most Zimbabweans who come here tell us that there is no medicines and the hospitals are now just a place to go and die. Most of those who seek medical attention are diabetic patients, pregnant women and other ailments.”
Zimbabweans like Nomsa who have lost hope in getting proper medication in Zimbabwe says the only way is for her to go to SA to to get hypertension medicines for her parents.
” My parents have got blood pressure and I was having problems in getting medicines for them due to our country’s economic meltdown so I was tipped by other friends to cross to South Africa to get them medicines or let them die.” she says .
Tinashe (not real name) said his mother has TB related coughs and rely most on cough medicines to deal with chronic coughs so she always come to buy some in South Africa.
” I am now buying some cough syrup, supplements and vitamin-based medicines for my mother and family here in South Africa. I use to buy in Harare as you know some have their prices gone up, others have disappeared from the shops and pharmacies are charging in foreign currency so the only option is to come here to South Africa” says Tinashe. – additional reporting iol.co.za