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Gvt in scurry over medical professionals’ exodus

Gvt in scurry over medical professionals’ exodus

By Wellington Zimbowa

CAUGHT in-between a dilapidated public healthcare infrastructure capacity and provision supply, amid a recurrence of mass flight of healthcare professionals at a time the globe is under the relentless COVID- 19 axe, Government has receded from its earlier harsh stance against calls for improved welfare for medical doctors, nurses and others.

Just like at the millennium turn when the economic outlook became negative punctuated by the high cost of living, hyperinflation, and unmatching salary remuneration resulting in mass economic migration by skilled professionals including medical doctors and nurses during the President Robert Mugabe era, the sad scenario has apparently made an unwelcome reshow.

Latest Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (ZIMSTAT) data indicates that Consumer Price Index  (CPI) between September 2020 and September 2021 marked a 51.55 percent increase.

Accordingly, an ordinary family of six now requires about ZWL$ 40000 for basic family needs at a time most salaries are below RTGS $20000.

Just recently, the Harare City council revealed that it lost 24 nurses who crossed to the private sector where remuneration is reportedly attractive, amidst indications that they would have sold the previous employer a dummy, as they would have gone through required specialised training at no gain for the former.

Although there are reports of a mass exodus of Zimbabwean nurses and doctors to the United Kingdom (UK), Australia, and other countries abroad where the working environment is highly competitive, the Second administration looks to have softened its stance and dangling carrots to the health practitioners.

Vice President Constantine Chiwenga, who doubles as the Health and Child Care minister following the unceremonious departure of Dr Obadiah Moyo last year in what became to be known as the Covidgate scandal running into millions of hard currency, although the latter he was freed by the courts.

“Government is focusing on accelerating the provision of non-monetary benefits to health workers as a short to medium-term measure to stem the brain drain observed in the health sector. Accordingly, completion of the model flats to be constructed for health professionals across the country’s provinces is being expedited. The Civil Servants vehicle loan scheme rates are being reviewed, while a strategy, whereby government acquires vehicles for health worker beneficiaries, with the loan being amortised through an agreed framework is being worked out. Regarding the provision of canteen or cafeteria services at health institutions, seed money will be provided to revamp and operationalize existing canteens as well as construct new ones where the facilities are not available,” revealed the recent government post-Cabinet meeting.

Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe (MDPPZA) president Dr Johannes Marisa is on record exalting both private and public medical doctors for their sterling heed to the call of duty.

“These cadres (medical staff) have shown great commitment and patriotism, whether in government or private practice. There should not be acrimony of whatever sort between the government and its medical staff as so much commitment, diligence, and assiduity has been shown by the remaining medical staff in our country. It doesn’t mean that all of us cannot seek greener pastures in countries like England, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Russia; no, but the feeling of leaving our own country with our friends, relatives and fellow countrymen deters us from migration. This is our dear Zimbabwe,” reads part of his public contributions in local media.

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