Zimbabwean doctors hiked their consultation fees by a massive 100 percent as of the beginning of this year. The doctors cite the hyper-inflationary economic environment in the country as justification for the increase, but this latest price boost puts medical care beyond the reach of more ordinary Zimbabweans.
It will cost Zimbabweans almost $40 to visit a general practitioner and more than $50 to visit a specialist.
Speaking on state radio, a representative of the doctors said the increase is necessary to cope with the high inflationary environment in the country. Inflation stands at more than 500 percent. He said the weakness of the local currency against major foreign currencies and the cost of imported medical equipment also contributed to the new fee.
Zimbabwe's health service, once hailed as among the best in Africa, is now characterized by drug and equipment shortages. Many health workers are looking for work elsewhere. In addition, the country has one of the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates in the world with one in five adults HIV positive.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Deputy Secretary General Collin Gwiyo told VOA that the increase will make it impossible for the majority of Zimbabwean workers to consult a doctor. He said most workers could not afford the old rate anyway and what he described as a collapsed health delivery system is now only for the rich.
Some Zimbabweans' monthly salaries are less than the cost of a single consultation.