- The Permanent Secretary for Health and Child Welfare, Dr Gerald Gwinji -represented by Mr Kadzere,
- The Chairman of the Health Services Board, Dr, Lovemore Mbengeranwa,
- The Vice Chairman of AHFoZ, Mr Naison Muza,
- The Executive Committee members of AHFoZ,
- Constituent members of the Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe,
- The ZiMA president- Dr Enock Tatira,
- Distinguished guests,
- Ladies and gentlemen.
What an immense privilege it is for me to stand before you this morning at this great dawn of a new era. The most distinct fact is that this time we are gathered for a completely different reason, one of its kind. Ladies and gentlemen this time it’s about celebrating. I am sure you will agree with me that such moments are rare as most of our gatherings are usually characterized by tension and at times outright anger.
we are simply unveiling and celebrating the acquisition of new AHFoZ offices with you our valued stakeholders. As AHFoZ we believe the stakeholders represented here have walked with AHFoZ through the thicket and at some stage almost started eating each other in a typical animal fashion of survival of the fittest; but thank God it did not exactly get to that therefore we have every reason to celebrate. It has not been a smooth journey but as Sir Winston Churchill said: “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Today’s ceremony marks the culmination of a long process dating back to 1969. Let me give you a brief background of the Association from formation to date: The Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) was formed in 1969 as the Rhodesia Association of Medical Aid Societies (RAMAS). The Rhodesia Association of Medical Aid Societies (RAMAS) held its Inaugural meeting on the 18th of September 1969 under the Chairmanship of Engineering Medical Fund. Secretariat duties were carried out by an elected Secretary who was also an employee of EMF. In 1976 Secretarial duties of RAMAS were taken over by CIMAS (Mr Hore) . Due to the increase in the secretariat work, Mr Hore was made a permanent employee of RAMAS on the 1st of May 1979. In that same year, the association changed its name from RAMAS to National Association of ??Medical Aid Societies (NAMAS) on the 5th of November 1979. At that time the Secretariat offices were located at 506 Savoy house, which was situated at the corner of Stanley and Inez Terrace, Harare. At this time Secretariat work was being done by two people i.e the Executive Secretary (CEO) and a messenger. The inaugural Chairman resigned in 1982 after 13years. He was replaced by Dr E. Leyland who held office until the 6th of November 1984, when an independent Chairman was then elected, Mr. D. P. Wadman.
On 1 April 1995 the NAMAS office moved to Medical Chambers, 60 Baines Avenue, Harare due to an increase in staff. This took place under the Chairmanship of Justice L.G. Smith who was the Chairman for 10years. The NAMAS office moved to King George Court as from 1 August 1998. The Association then changed its name to AHFoZ in 2004. This latest change of name was motivated by the desire to accommodate other healthcare funders who are not traditional medical aid societies.
After being served with a 3months’ notice to vacate King George Court, on 1 May, 2012 the Association bought its own office premises and moved to this place, hence today’s celebration. Despite the time that has elapsed, the core objectives at formation have remained relevant to date. However more activities have been taken on and the scope has been broadened in line with the changing environment. The original objectives were and still are to provide a central point to:
- Deal with sensitive issues such as the tariffs
- Liaison with the Healthcare providers and other stakeholders
- Registering or accrediting Healthcare Providers and Institutions.
- Since then more and more functions were ascribed to it to enhance the efficiency of the medical aid industry in the changing environment.
At its inauguration the then NAMAS had a membership of 17 medical aid societies and as of now the number is 28, including 3 affiliates.
The vision and mission for the Association have been reviewed to ensure relevance to today’s needs and expectations. These are: Vision To be Zimbabwe’s torch bearer for the healthcare sector. Mission To create an enabling environment for healthcare funders to achieve accessible quality service and viability. Major activities to date:
- AHFoZ played a significant role during the crafting of the “Medical Services Act” of 2000.
- AHFoZ has also been involved in the debate on National Health.
- AHFoZ hosts high profile annual conferences on health which conferences bring together delegates from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Malawi and South Africa to discuss issues affecting the health sector.
- Collectively AHFoZ members assisted in the purchase of eye equipment housed at a Health Institution.
- AHFoZ encourages its members to engage in social responsibility activities eg. one of its members renovated Mbuya Nehanda maternity hospital.
- AHFoZ is one of the sponsors for the production of the 2010 national Health Accounts.
- AHFoZ is also assisting / training government hospitals on medical billing and to date Parirenyatwa hospital, Harare, Chitungwiza, Chinhoyi and Bindura hospitals have been trained.
- During the 2012 annual conference, AHFoZ donated cash and goods worth $4500 to 2 charities based in Victoria falls.
- AHFoZ is working with NAC in a PPP which will see the provision of cheaper ARV drugs to medical aid patients thereby decongesting the public institutions.
As AHFoZ, we believe we are an important player in the healthcare sector playing the complementary role to Government, and as such, we take seriously issues arising from the conferences which issues are discussed by the Executive Committee and resolutions passed and actioned. In addition to the accreditation of healthcare institutions, to promote quality and patient safety, AHFoZ introduced a floating trophy for the BEST Practical nurse at Gweru Provincial hospital to promote good nursing care. We have also introduced trophies for the ZITF and Harare Agricultural show for the best health related exhibition. As AHFoZ, we believe there should be excellence in all facets of healthcare as health is a fundamental public good. With regards to the issue of fees, AHFoZ supports efforts by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to have a tariff that is viable for service providers and sustainable for medical aid societies and takes into consideration the prevailing economic environment.
In conclusion, let me take this opportunity to thank the Chairman and the Executive Committee of AHFoZ for their support and far ranging vision. Had they been myopic, this milestone we are celebrating today would not have seen the light of the day because such a decision requires a board resolution and support in action. What a joy it is to share this moment with you, the Executive Committee and member societies; being the people who made it possible. I wish to salute the members and leadership that stood by the Association over the years especially in 2007- 2008 at the height of inflation. Without their visionary leadership the Association would have shut down during this most trying time in the life of the Association. Lastly I wish to say that it is my hope that AHFoZ will not only continue to thrive but will grow. Just like the wise gentlemen and ladies far back in 1969, we should all act responsibly and continue to complement the government in the provision and funding for healthcare in our country. Ladies and gentlemen we must give increasingly rigorous thought on what legacy we want to leave for the future generations. I thank you