By Dr Raymond Chamba
From early 2009 to the end of 2010 I put together a national primary health proposition under the banner Community Healthcare Options with funds that i made from BACOSSI. It was a bold proposition to roll out within 24 months 500 community primary health care centers all throughout the country.
I was laughed at and vilified by the Political and Medical Mafia in Zimbabwe. It was all simple discouragement until we had 185 health access centers around the country. We literally hired and put on standby around 2,000 of the finest nurses in Zimbabwe including 80 Medical Doctors. We were inundated and overwhelmed with applicants to the extent that we introduced an Administrative Fee to discourage common job seekers as well as help us somewhat underwrite the heavy operational expenses.
There is not a single legislator then (many times over in Parliament and Senate chambers and through their political party caucuses) who didn’t get the word that theirs was a responsibility to identify premises we come and retrofit into community clinics. One Senate leader from the ruling party I won’t mention by name was so impressed by our vision that he loudly proclaimed in public chambers “Mwanangu, if your group truly succeeds in making healthcare accessible, affordable, and acceptable then you would have brought the true and complete independence we were waiting for….”.
From inception, we drove home the point to all apparatchiks who could listen that “health was a national security issue”. A few important international organizations started recognizing the work we were doing and committed to set aside up to 10% of their total health aid commitment to us. We were seconded with staff from the security services to superintend, report on, and assist in our massive rollout. At our peak, we were opening at least a clinic per day somewhere in Zimbabwe.
For the rural areas, we had an innovative program of folks paying for their fees through whatever they had- wild fruits, grains, chicken, and even goat insurance for coverage of a family of up to seven members for 6 months in terms of consultation fees.
The Political Mafia saw problems in the nebulous and inconsequential connection of a senior member of our organization and some political contender for office. The other faction within the ruling party ridiculously came up with the wild suggestion that it was some roaring underground national campaign for someone whose clear success would pose a clear security threat. The Health Mafia lobbied hard to close us down under all kinds of grounds.
The Media Mafia was brought in to concoct and write all kinds of scandalous articles about how we were this bad organization and my person someone not to be entrusted with the private investment into primary healthcare. The sponsored bad press has never and will not save the health needs of a single journalist.
To make this sordid tale short a combined operation of all national security agencies was harnessed to close us down in one single synchronized fashion. Someone at the Joint Operations Command had made the wild allegation that ” Hamusi kuona nyika ichienda makatarisa…we need this boy shut down”. Shut down we were and it marked the end to a bold, bodacious, private investment into a true national healthcare undertaking.
Health care investment has never been a clear and sustained national priority over the years. They chose to invest in multiple new vehicles, endless and useless foreign trips plus the usual indulgence in hardcore defence strategies. One cannot help loudly wondering what the Political Mandarins think now of the same amidst the grim ripper of COVID-19
We must rethink and reimagine the seminal importance of accessible, acceptable, and affordable healthcare access for all once again. I lost about USD$5million in the Community Healthcare Options program shut down but I think the nation lost way more. It’s not about myself or any individual but the core understanding that a nation that seeks to undermine the enterprise of its own will never go very far in sustainable development strategies and private investment input….
The truth is always neatly hidden in time….
Dr. Raymond Chamba is a global Financier Engineer of note with a Ph.D. in Synthetic Finance. He has consulted for a lot of notable enterprises and governments around the world. He is currently in the process of setting up the Mining Bank of Africa with the collaboration of some major international hedge funds, a precious metals collateral house to harness what we have to underwrite what we need.