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Zimbabwe: War Vets Demand Free Treatment in Private Hospitals

War veterans say they have lost faith in the country’s collapsing health delivery system and are demanding the government should fund them to seek treatment in well-equipped and staffed private hospitals.

Speaking at the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security public hearing in Bulawayo Wednesday, the former freedom fighters said they suffered critical injuries during the war of liberation in the 1970s, which the public health institutions had no capacity to treat.

The public hearing was on the proposed Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill.

“The free medical treatment that we are receiving is limited to public hospitals. We need special treatment for injuries we sustained during the war. Government hospitals are ill-equipped to treat the effects of chemical warfare which affected us,” a former liberation fighter told the committee.

ZIPRA Veterans Secretary General, Petros Sibanda said war veterans were unable to access health care at government hospitals because the medical centres were ill-equipped, with no doctors and medication.

“We want to get treatment at private hospitals. Our public hospitals have no doctors, have no medication and that is why we want the medical aid scheme to give us access to private hospitals,” said Sibanda.

Currently, war vets receive free treatment at all public health institutions.

During the public hearing, the war veterans also demanded an independent commission that will manage their affairs by replacing the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Board.

“The Bill must provide for the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Commission similar roles to other independent commissions that have been set up, not a board. An independent commission has more powers than a board,” said Andrew Ndlovu.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs is gathering views on the proposed Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill nationwide.

So far the committee has been to Hwange and Gwanda gathering views from war veterans in Matabeleland North and South provinces.

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