MREF, a new Medical Aid policy for People with Disabilities (PWDs) has been introduced in Zimbabwe in a move that set to bring convenience and increase access to health services for the community.
By Michael Gwarisa
MREF stands for Muduvuri Rehabilitation and Empowerment Foundation and was founded by disability activist and business person, Jimayi Muduvuri.
Speaking to HealthTimes on the behalf of MREF spokesperson, Mr Nyasha Nhau, said the medical aid policy had come at the right time as demand for access to health services for PWDs has also increased during the COVID-19 era.
The medical aid policy was motivated by the challenges faced by people with disabilities regarding access to medication and other health needs,” said Mr Nhau.
“We have partnered a group of private medical practitioners under the banner of MDPPAZ and already signed a memorandum of understanding in December at Ranch Hotel in Kadoma in the presence of Deputy minister of health, Dr John Magwiro.”
He added that the Murefu Medical Aid facility already has structures in all the country’s 10 provinces with Chitungwiza being the 11th province.
“We are using the structures to recruit our members. Among other objectives through this medical aid policy is to ensure that all people with disabilities get access to medication in government as well as private medical and health institutions.”
Persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe still face a myriad of challenges in accessing health services which include lack of access to medication, lack of disability friendly health infrastructure, lack of disability focused health literature and Information Education and Communication (IEC) material, amongst a host of other issues.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean government recently launched a Disability Policy as part of its efforts to better living standards and dignity of PWDs as well as improve access to basic services such as education, health, water and sanitation among other basic human rights.
According to a recent survey that was conducted by the ZIMSTATS, 9.3% of the population in Zimbabwe are persons with disabilities. Those with hearing impairments constitute 12% (20-300 000 of the population), multiple impairments 13%, intellectual disability 8%, mental illness 6%, visual impairments 26%, epilepsy 2%, speech impairment 1%, nerve injuries 1%, albinism 0.3% and physical impairment 31%.