Secretary General - Health Professions Authority

Secretary General - Health Professions Authority

 

MR SHEPHERD HUMURE

Mr Shepherd Humure is a Chartered Management Accountant  and holds an MBA degree from Edinburgh Business School of the Heriot Watt University, UK. He is also a qualified Chartered Secretary.

Mr Humure is in his final studies to qualify for the degree of Master of Sciences in Strategic Planning from Edinburgh Business School.

He has gained vast experience from working for various multinational companies that include Rio Tinto, BP and Shell, Shabanie and Mashaba Mines Holdings and Metallon Gold.

He joined the Health Professions Authority from Chitungwiza Central Hospital where he was Finance Director.

 

FROM THE SECRETARY GENERAL'S DESK

 

RELATIONSHIP WITH PRACTITIONERS
The Health Professions Authority is committed to improve service delivery to its stakeholders and senior management is visiting all areas of the country to meet members and practitioners and get their feedback on the operations of the Authority. The Authority’s focus will be on the following issues in order to strengthen its relationship and interface with the practitioners.
 

Thrust to reduce the fees burden on practitioners
The Health Professions Authority charges and collects fees as provided in Sections 15 and 16 of the Health Professions Act, which stipulates source of revenue for the Authority as:

  1. Levies
  2. Government grant
  3. Any other moneys

Currently the Authority’s main source of revenue is from practitioners and the thrust is to mobilise more revenue collections from the national budget and reduce the burden on practitioners. In most developed economies, the health inspection budget is funded 100 % by the fiscus.
A large number of health institutions in Zimbabwe are public and moreover the majority of inspections that are being carried out are for the protection of the public. As a result, it is imperative that the Authority motivates more funding from the national budget than from practitioners as the case at the present moment.

During the hyperinflation era in 2008, the operations of the Health Professions Authority were crippled, as funds to carry out inspections were hard to come by. With the advent of the multi currency system, the Authority is now active and repositioning itself to claim its ground. With adequate funding the Authority’s presence will be felt in all areas of the country. Zimbabwe has one of the most advanced health delivery system in Africa because of the role played by regulatory inspections and it is important that this legacy is preserved through adequate funding from the fiscus.
 

Minimum requirements
Comments from practitioners are that some of the minimum requirements for health institutions currently in use are now outdated and some of them have been overtaken by technological developments. Other views from practitioners are that some minimum requirements are too stringent and emphasise the trivia. Practitioners also highlight that some minimum requirement items were not available on the local market, yet practitioners are required to have them on inspections. It was felt that at times the minimum requirements contradict those of other regulatory authorities such as the Medicine Control Authority.

The Authority’s response is that a bottom up approach will be undertaken in order to come up with a new minimum requirements document. Accordingly, practitioners through their specialist associations will be asked to submit the changes they would like to see effected in the minimum requirements document and the submissions will be harmonised into a new and updated minimum requirements document for the Authority. The new document shall be distributed to all practitioners so that they know what inspectors would be looking for during inspections.
 

Registration process bottlenecks
The standing requirement is that practitioners are not allowed to start operations before inspection and approval by the Authority. However, concerns from practitioners are that at times the inspection and approval process takes long. Some doctors will be moving from one premise to another and have patients they would be attending to, who need continuous monitoring and care and they would be affected by the long delay. The long delay would also affect some practitioners opening their health institutions for the first time and would have obtained loans from the banks that need amortisation. Other practitioners would like to open immediately in order to raise money to meet rental obligations and hence the long delay in registering the health institution acutely affects them.

The Authority also received feedback with regards to the registration being withheld for minor shortfalls and also that the timeframe given to attend to shortfalls was too short. Views received from practitioners are also that in old buildings, the changes needed were not possible as the building structure cannot be altered. It was also mentioned that renewal forms are required to be filled every year and yet the basic information remains unchanged. Other practitioners are of the view that the Health Professions Authority should take the role of hospital grading from AFHoZ.
The Authority is liaising with the Councils so that measures are put in place to speed up the registration process. The issue of grading of hospitals will be handled through the appropriate forum through the Health Advisory Council.
 

Overlapping of responsibilities and multiple fees
A query from practitioners is that why do they make payments to their Councils when applying for registration and yet it was the responsibility of HPA to register health institutions. Concern from practitioners is also that the fees must vary depending on the location, thus those in rural areas and growth points should have different fee structure from those in towns. Practitioners also request for the staggering of renewal fees as they are, all due for payment to the Authority and Councils at the same time, that is beginning of the year.   

Other issues which the Authority is looking at in order to improve service delivery to practitioners include the issue of health institutions over regulated, resulting in duplication of roles and multiple licensing which are costly for practitioners.

The Act that governs the operations of the Authority was promulgated 11 years ago when the environment was different from the one we are now operating in. Plans are underway to update the Act  and take account of the above issues as a solution.
 

Website and e-learning
The Health Professions Authority is working on the website which will be used to improve accessibility and distribute registration and renewal forms, amongst other functions.

Suggestion from practitioners is that Continuous Education Programmes should be made available on the internet to improve accessibility by practitioners in remote areas. Internet based programmes are cost effective than travelling long distances to attend the seminars.

The Health Professions Authority is quite pleased to receive the feedback in its interface with practitioners and initiatives are being put in place to address some of the issues. Some of the issues and concerns from the practitioners can be addressed through amendment of the Act and this is a high item on the strategic agenda of the Authority.

 
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