A South African hospital has refused to discharge a 10-month-old Zimbabwean boy over an unsettled bill of more than R7 000.
The boy underwent a neck lump operation at the Louis Trichardt Memorial Hospital where he was admitted on February 7 this year.
The operation was performed on February 9, and he was supposed to be discharged the next day.
The boy’s mother, Yvonne Moyo from Tshikota, was then requested to pay R7 640. She said that she was told that, if she failed to pay the amount, the hospital management would not allow her to go home.
Moyo said that she was very grateful for the surgery that now enabled her child to live like other normal children, but that she did not have that kind of money as she was unemployed.
She felt certain that she was being discriminated against because she is Zimbabwean, and said that if she had been a local, they would have allowed her to go home immediately.
“My life has been turned into a nightmare. I have not had a moment of peace since I was told to pay the money. I need urgent assistance and plead with a Good Samaritan to come to my rescue, so I can pay the hospital bill. My family depend on piece jobs and the money is too little to cover medical needs as well,” she said.
When Limpopo Mirror contacted the spokesperson for the Department of Health, Thilivhali Muavha, for comment, he said if the local people don’t have money, “we make payment arrangements.” “Foreigners, however, must pay the full amount after assistance. In Moyo’s case, she signed an agreement with the hospital to pay R1 000 cash and the balance in instalments.”
Last year, Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba confronted a Zimbabwean patient at a Bela-Bela hospital telling her that South Africa does not have the budget to accommodate foreign nationals.
The matter triggered varying responses with medical practitioners saying “discrimination” against foreign patients was unethical and a violation of their code of conduct.
Some, however, defended the MEC saying the Zimbabwean government must offer health care services to its people or pay South Africa for such services.
Reports suggest that for about two decades now, thousands of Zimbabweans have been seeking medical attention in South Africa following the collapse of the Zimbabwean health sector.
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