Friday, August 12 2022

The South African Ministry of Health in Musina has expressed concern over the influx of Zimbabweans seeking treatment, especially maternity services in that country.

This emerged during a meeting of stakeholders in the management of cross-border migration between Zimbabwe and South Africa held last Friday in Musina, where officials from that country complained about the influx of Zimbabwean patients.

The meeting brought together officials from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and various government departments and ministries of the two countries, including those of Health, Interior and Foreign Affairs.

Officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Save the Children and the municipalities of Betibridge and Musina were also present.

“The South African government doctor in charge of Musina district has expressed concern at the increasing number of Zimbabweans who would seek medical services from South African clinics in Musina and Vhembe districts,” a report read in part. of IOM.

“He noted that this influx undermines the goals and outcomes of health care delivery in the districts. Services that Zimbabwean migrants would have sought include obstetrics and childbirth and other specialist services, which come at a cost to the South African government, but the migrants were not paying for the services rendered.”

Zimbabwe’s health sector is groaning under a myriad of challenges such as lack of medicines and drugs, while health professionals have resigned in droves in protest at low salaries.

According to a doctor from Musina quoted in the IOM report, South Africa could not refuse Zimbabweans seeking treatment, despite fears that this would drain the country’s resources.

It comes at a time when South Africa is tightening the screws on undocumented Zimbabweans.

Pretoria also announced a series of immigration measures to stem the flow of Zimbabweans to the country, including the non-renewal of Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEPs), which expired in December.

Zimbabweans have been urged to apply for new visas by December 31 or face deportation. There are around 180,000 ZEP holders, and hordes of documented and undocumented Zimbabweans in the neighboring country, with estimates putting the figure at three million.

The IOM report adds: “Reported cases could be Zimbabweans (according to Zimbabwean officials) who are already in South Africa working on farms or wives of migrants already working in South Africa.

“It was noted that there is a need to have regular engagement on issues related to migrant health between the two counterpart ministries outside of the regular quarterly meetings to address any emerging issues of concern.”

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