Thousands of patients in Zimbabwe have been hard done by the persistent cash shortages thanks to the unrealistic daily $1 000 withdrawal limit offered by banks which has left them unable to purchase drugs.
They have called on Government to urgently avail them a special facility that would allow them to access enough cash from banks to buy medication.
Alternatively, they urged the Government to immediately review the $1 000 withdrawal limit, which they said was not enough for them to buy life-saving drugs.
The most affected patients are those suffering from chronic diseases such as sugar diabetes, high-blood pressure and those with renal problems as they need regular medication.
They said they were failing to buy prescribed drugs, as pharmacies were demanding cash.
They said the limit was pushing the price of medication beyond their means.
Deaths have been reported of patients failing to get money from banks to buy medication.
For instance if one is given a prescription of $50 000, fifty working days would be required to withdraw that much money. But the danger is after fifty days the price would have hiked.
Alfred Moyo, who suffers from high blood pressure, said runaway inflation rendered money that he withdrew daily from the bank useless, every time he tried to keep it until it was enough for his medication. “Trying to stockpile the money I get daily from the bank is a non-starter at the current rate of inflation … Even if I was to go to the bank everyday for the next hundred years, I would never get enough to buy my medication because prices go up everyday,” he said.
A number of chronically ill patients alleged that pharmacies had also adopted the dual pricing system whereby a cash price and a higher cheque price were used for the same product.
Cash shortages have affected all sectors of the economy and businesses have blamed them on the daily withdrawal limit, which is not enough to buy a pint of milk.