Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent
The health of ailing prisoners has been compromised following the decision by Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals (PGH) to deny them treatment until it is paid almost $600 000 owed by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS). The debt dates back to 2012, and is inclusive of services rendered to prisoners, prison officers and their dependants. ZPCS’ concern has been on the welfare of the inmates since prison officers could access healthcare elsewhere.
ZPCS has about 19 400 inmates in its facilities countrywide, inclusive of adult males, females and juveniles. A letter from the hospital director of finance to ZPCS’ regional medical officer, dated November 22, 2017 read: “After reviewing your account with Parirenyatwa Hospital, it has come to my notice that you are still not up to date with your payments and you have not responded to earlier communications made to you. As at October 31, 2017, you owe PGH $587 149,96.
“As earlier communicated to you in our letter dated March 17, 2017, we regret to tell you that your account with Parirenyatwa is closed. “We shall continue doing business with you, but in cash as long as your debt is not being serviced. This action is because you have consistently missed your payments.”
In an interview yesterday, ZPCS Deputy Commissioner-General Dr Alford Mashango Dube said the move was going to compromise the health service delivery system for their patients, especially the inmates. He said they depended on Government for the payment of such a debt.
“We have our clinics that treat certain ailments, however, there are other procedures that are referred to them (PGH) that we cannot perform at our clinics,” he said.
“As a result, there has been an excess of $500 000 that is owed to them and because of that we can no longer keep referring the patients to them based on their communication to us that they would cut services. Parirenyatwa is a Government institution like us and we get our resources from the same Government. As an institution, we basically depend on the fiscus just like them.”
Dr Dube said the move by Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals was worrying, as society would view ZPCS as an institution that was not concerned with the health and welfare of the inmates, which was not the case. “The management is very concerned about the health of the inmates, but now we are being let down by fellow Government institutions, which is very worrying and reflects badly on us,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa and other ministry officials were futile.