Women turn to traditional herbs to counter high medical costs


by Loveness Nyathi

Women in some parts of  Bulawayo and surrounding areas have resorted to traditional medicines and herbs for treatment following a series of hikes on medical treatment and consultation fees by general practitioners and specialist Doctors countrywide.

Medical and consultation fees for private Doctors have gone up over three times since October 2018. General Practitioners are charging an average of US$20 consultation fees or an equivalent in Bond or transfer depending on the parallel market rate on that particular day whereas Specialist Doctors like Gyneacologists and Neurologists are charging between US$30 and USD50.

Amakhosikazi Media  spoke to some women on the streets of Bulawayo who said traditional medicine, home remedies and herbs are what they have turned to as paying consultation fees in US Dollars are beyond their means.

Sifiso Masuku(51) a self employed woman from Old Luveve in Bulawayo said they do not have access to US dollars and has hence resorted to alternative remedies.

"There is nothing we can do about the medical fees hikes, sizakufa (we will die)," said Miss Masuku.

Medical facilities and Doctors increased consultation fees following a fall in the Zimbabwe Bond Dollar rate against the US Dollar arguing that it was expensive for them to access medical tools using the local currency which is not taken by other countries. Last month's shutdown over fuel price increases announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa worsened the situation which had already taken a downturn when Doctors at Government hospitals downed their tools pushing most patients to seek treatment at private surgeries. 

A young woman who only identified herself as MaMoyo also said the situation is hard,

"Kunzima kakhulu uyazi sizaqina ngemithi yesintu langomthandazo ukuthi silwe lemikhuhlane", (Its tough you know, we will now rely on traditional herbs and prayer to fight diseases) she said. 

While traditional medicines are often shunned by urbanites, many laud them as being more readily available, effective and healthier to take than modern medicines they say are full of chemicals which bring with them unknown and at times untreatable side effects. The downside often pointed out with traditional medicines is that they are not scientifically tested and hence dosage and side effects as well are often unknown. 

Meanwhile pharmacies and Medical aid facilities have also started changing their tune requesting payments be done in straight US Dollars or the black market exchange rate equivalent. Meanwhile, most basic salaries remain stagnant, a situation which has left many ordinary citizens helpless