Brisk business for clinics as chronically ill patients fail to travel to SA

By Liz Dlodlo

Chronically ill patients from Beitbridge and other parts of the Matabeleland region who used to travel to South Africa to get medical supplies where they are relatively affordable have turned to surgeries and pharmacies in Zimbabwe’s southern border town.

So brisk has been the business at many surgeries where consultation fees are pegged at anything between R100 and R300 depending with the ailments.

A survey by CITE at the weekend shows that the private clinics are teeming with patients, especially those with diabetes, high blood pressure and related chronic ailments.

It was also established that pre-lockdown, most rural clinics had run out of medication for chronic ailments and many people relied on the neighbouring country.

The district hospital has also been a busy place and sources said the deliveries (baby) per month ranged between 200 and 300.

Besides the over 60 000 residents, the facility (hospital) also caters to people from Mwenezi and Gwanda district and others from more than a dozen clinics.

The District Medical Officer, Dr Lenos Samhere could not be reached as he was said to be out of town.

There are five major private clinics in the town, servicing mostly the middle-class members of the society who don’t fancy public hospitals.

“We have witnessed a sudden increase in patients coming for chronic ailments attention at our clinic.

“Before the lockdown many people including new mothers preferred to go to Musina for medical attention and this has changed with passenger travel still restricted,” said a nurse at one surgery in Dulivhadzimu.

Another nurse said their employers had to revise down consultation fees to accommodate the low-income earners who used to rely on cheaper medication in Musina.

“The prices were revised on a compassionate basis. Many people especially those in the rural areas relied on their relatives in the diaspora for general upkeep but either part can cross the borders in the current scenario,” she said.

A senior citizen identified as MaSibanda, who suffers from high blood pressure said she has to make do with the local surgeries and pharmacies for constant supplies and medical checkups.

“Before this disease, I would send my nephew to get medication from Musina or Makhado town because prices there are affordable.

“Now I don’t have any option but to buy locally where prices are pegged in Rands or American dollars,” said MaSibanda.

Her plight is common among the elderly from most remote areas.

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