The executive director of Citizen Observatory for Health (OCS), Jorge Matine, calls for regulation and standardization of user fees in Mozambican hospitals, arguing that the fees constitute a barrier for access to healthcare, especially for the poorest strata of society.
According to Jorge Matine, there are many health facilities that privilege those who pay the fees which jeopardizes the health of those who cannot afford to pay for treatment.
“There is a lack of a sensitive policy for low-income people”, stated Matine, on Thursday, during the opening ceremony of a National Conference on Access to Health, taking place in Maputo.
Matine argues that “the fees that are charged in hospitals should be regulated, because when they are not, they create spaces for corruption and, consequently, a barrier to access to health services”.
He stressed that the fees, before they are applied, should first be subject to debate with the participation of service users on their ability to pay.
“The fees start at 200 meticais (about 4 US dollars), reaching a little over 1,500 meticais ( about 25 US dollars) harming the Mozambican population that survives on less than one dollar a day, in a context where they are forced to give up other essential expenditure as a way to access certain health services”, he explained.
He stressed that these fees are charged without any regulation, and each hospital sets the amount it wants, without much clarity on how they are determined.
“This fact also leads us to conclude that the stipulation of fees for access to health care is not transparent, that is, everything indicates that the health units simply set the fees without following a logic or standard norm at the level of the National Health System (SNS)”, he stated.
The National Health Conference – an event held by the Citizen Observatory for Health, funded by the European Union – lasts for two days (June 30 and July 1). In the conference, different studies have been present, ranging from User Fees (experience of Mozambique, Uganda and South Africa), Sale of Medicines in the Informal Market, Access to Medicines for People with Disabilities, and Mechanisms for Performing Social Auditing.