HPA stands for public interest

Before the coming of the Health Professions Authority on 1 July 2001, there was the Health Professions Council (HPC) which was there to look after the health worker and the patient was excluded. Patient right under HPC was given second class attention, if there was any and the patient therefore had no voice. The Health Professions Authority came into being to address this situation by ensuring that there was a balance between health worker and that the patient voice should be heard.
Some players in the medical industry might say the medical profession is over regulated. However, we have to look at the nature of the medical profession, as it is the profession that deals with matters of life and death. The public go into health institutions expecting to get better and not to be killed. Hence the need for strict measures, control, checks and balances in the medical industry. The medical profession has a lot of responsibilities that call for increased oversight to ensure people do not unnecessarily lose life. The Health Professions Authority public interest role is undertaken in three broad terms as follows:

  • Being the umbrella body for the seven councils.
  • Being the appellant body for members and their councils.
  • Protection of public interest.

Each one is dealt with in detail low:
Acting as umbrella body for the seven councils
The specific role played is articulated in Sections 5 (a) and (b) of the Health Professions Act.

Being the appellant body for members and their councils
The Health Professions Authority provides adjudication process for members and councils to ensure that councils do not transgress at the disadvantage of members. There is therefore need for an oversight role by the Health professions Authority over the activities of the councils and their members. If a member is not happy with treatment given by his/ her council he is required to appeal to HPA and from HPA it goes to High Court.

Protection of public interest

  • This done through:
  • Overseeing activities of Councils.
  • Inspections of Health Institutions.
  • Acting as an appellant body for the public not satisfied with decisions of the council in handling their complaints.

The majority of inspections that are being carried out are for the protection of the public. Zimbabwe has one of the most advanced health delivery system in Africa because of the role inspection plays in the delivery of quality healthcare. The fact that our health personnel is competitively sought overseas is testimony to this. The Health Professions Authority plays a critical role in ensuring that health providers are setting and operating health shops which do not harm the public. HPA is thus necessary to a civilized society.

The only constraint we face is adequate funding to enable the Health Professions Authority reach every corner of the country carrying out inspections. As for the public to be protected, the Health Professions Authority needs substantial funding from the fiscus to ensure that health institutions are inspected, standards are met and patients are receiving quality of service. In developed economies, like Australia, the inspection budget is funded 100 % by the fiscus.

In Zimbabwe, the role of the Health Professions Authority cannot be under estimated as it is there for the needs and expectations of the public. That is to say, HPA is there and exists for national interest. It is only that during the hyperinflation era, HPA was dormant and inactive as it had no funds to carry out inspections throughout the country. With the coming of the multi currency system, HPA is now up and claiming its ground in the health delivery system.

We are repositioning HPA as an entire new management outfit at HPA and we will be more active and seen in all the areas of the country carrying out our public duty and enforcing the Zimbabwe Patients Charter which stipulates the following patient rights.

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