Herat residents upset over new tariffs at public hospitals

Herat residents are up in arms over the provincial health directorate’s move to introduce a fee structure at public hospitals.

Many residents have questioned the move especially, according to them, as the level of health services has deteriorated.

They say the provincial health directorate needs to improve the level of treatment and invest in much-needed services.

“They refer even a small test to a clinic outside the hospital that charges a lot, but it would be good if it (directorate) invests in its services and improves it steadily,” said Abdul Salam, a Herat resident.

Based on the new tariff scheme, outpatients are charged 20 Afs while patients who are admitted to the hospital are charged 200 Afs.

“People are not in a good financial situation. For instance, I might have the ability, but there are many who cannot afford that,” said Muqaddas, a Herat resident.

“People visit public hospitals because they don’t have money. Now that the government has started charging 20 Afs, it will increase it going forward. Private hospitals were good previously, but they, too, have increased their fees.”

“I was charged 200 Afs as a fee and I paid 300 Afs for the test. There are no jobs here. My son works in Iran. His income is insufficient to afford such expenses,” said Hawa Gul, a Herat resident.

Doctors at Herat Provincial Hospital said the decision to introduce a fee was made by the Taliban’s public health directorate, which aims to use the money to purchase medicine and medical supplies. They said this move will be introduced to all public hospitals.

“We started to charge each patient 20 Afs in the outpatient department. It will start in other departments too. We will implement it in the gynecology department as well,” said Arif Jalali, chief physician at Herat Provincial Hospital.

The plan to charge patients in public hospitals was first approved in 2018 by the previous government but was suspended after widespread criticism by the people who said they could not afford to pay for treatment in government-owned health facilities.