Econet Dial a Doc under scrutiny. How genuine are the regulator’s “concerns”?

Nigel Gambanga Avatar

It’s been less than a month since the official launch of Dial a Doc, the medical value-added service from mobile operator Econet which offers consultations over the phone.

The service, which was introduced as a partnership between Econet Health Advisory Services and Ponai Medical Centre, and received mixed reviews (see the comments here), has now come under regulatory scrutiny after a report from the Sunday Mail has stated that it is operating illegally.

Apparently, the Medical and Dental Practitioner’s Council of Zimbabwe (MDPCZ) and Health Professions Authority of Zimbabwe  feel that the Econet Health Advisory service is not supported by law.

The MDPCZ is quoted as having said that every form of medical practice has to be approved by the council (something that Econet reportedly didn’t do) and any unlicensed service that requires medical expertise is illegal.

A statement from the Health Professions Association of Zimbabwe (HPAZ) is also quoted in the Sunday Mail report. HPAZ apparently regards telephone health services as illegal and unethical with questions on the level of standards being extended to patients.

While all of these issues seem like genuine grounds for raising concerns about the Dial a Doc service, what is odd is how both the MDPCZ and HPAZ were quiet about this prior to the launch of the service and for almost a month after it had been formally introduced to the public. Isn’t the council supposed to issue some public warning if the service is such a threat to consumer’s rights?

It’s also worth noting that the Dial a Doc service was commissioned at its official launch by representatives from the Ministry of Health. It’s hard to believe that the Ministry would have thrown its support behind the service if it wasn’t legitimate.

We haven’t been able to get an official comment from the MDPCZ or HPAZ regarding any of their concerns or the action they would take. Econet, however, has defended its service (naturally) pointing out that the MNO followed all consultations with relevant authorities prior to its launch. The service won’t be terminated because no official call to do that has been sent to Econet.

Is this an issue of Econet violating some health care regulations or is this just another example of the mercurial relationship that exists between Econet and the Government?



  1. Mhof

    In my opinion, Econet understands the following phrase very well:

    “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission”

    Better do something, and deal with consequences later. Surely after waiting for 5 years to get an operating licence, you can’t keep going through the same cycle over and over again every time you want to implement something.

  2. Garikai Dzoma

    Rule 18 Dinnozzo!

  3. TMZ

    Ecocash, ecosure, ecofarmer,dial a doc.Kwasara dial a stripper/escort.

    1. Ini

      TMZ I hope you realise that Econet hasn’t done anything new really but have simply did a copy and paste of solutions being used in other countries. Your remark makes me wonder kuti do people like you have a problem with progress or Econet; or maybe its just pure ignorance.

  4. Ini

    Whats interesting here is that Econet started with:
    1. Ebola(Cholera too) messages or medical advice via SMS for free
    2. Econet Health tips or medical tips/advice via SMS at a fee
    3. Dial-a-doc health or medical advice over the phone.
    So it became an illegal operation at which point 1,2 or 3? Because its all medical tips or advice over a mobile network. Did MDPCZ and HPAZ question the advice over the SMS platform or the legality thereof. Is there any law for such a service anywhere? These MDPCZ and HPAZ guys need to get their facts right.

    1. fourwallsinaroom

      they never offered me a cure for ebola!
      how to loose weight is once again not a cure. something even google can do.
      telling me how to resuscitate an unconscious person etc. over the phone is! at point three obviously

      1. Ini

        If it is, then this app by Red Cross Zimbabwe is illegal and services by Google search are illegal. Guess why, because they are not registered with MDPCZ and HPAZ. I like your argument though.

  5. Candy

    I don’t think this service needs all the legality being stressed out by the authorities. In my opinion internet offers more of these medical answers to our personal problems on a daily basis. I think u will all agree hw u hv googled a problem & saw relevant solutions to your problem & at some point u hv implemented such solutions. So in this basis shld we say Google must be banned from showing such medical related results or rather pieces of advice which can influence people to take certain medical solutions because there is no one on one contact btwn e doc and patient!

  6. fraank

    Whats the difference with vaChiremba pamepo from zbc radio zimbabwe?

    1. Anonymous 2

      Exactly! It’s just the same as that and advice columns!