Minister grilled over health allowance disparities

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Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa

Rural-based health officials are living in abject poverty while top directors at head office and others working in urban areas “feast” on the donor-funded Health Transition Fund, Parliament has been told.

by XOLISANI NCUBE

Health minister David Parirenyatwa, his secretary Gerald Gwinji and Health Service Board vice-chairman Lovemore Mbengeranwa unwittingly revealed the disparity while appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health yesterday.

Among the host of allowances that senior officials at head office and those who work in urban areas enjoyed include on-call allowances, night duty and standby perks to add on the Health Transition Fund.

Parirenyatwa revealed rural health workers were getting about $100 from the Health Transition Fund, a donor-driven initiative to help nurses attending to maternity issues.
This comes at a time when some directors at head office were paying themselves as high as $1 025 every month from the pool.

“It’s because we do not have fiscal space hence we removed a number of allowances which were accruing to our health personnel in rural areas,” Parirenyatwa said.

But this was quickly dismissed by Binga MP Price Sibanda (MDC-T) who said: “This is deliberate policy to impoverish the rural health workers so that you here at the head office would benefit.
“The bulk of people reside in rural areas and it’s just unrealistic that we have health workers there who are not incentivised. To me, you seem like you are the minister for urban centres and you value those who live in towns leaving out those who reside in our rural areas,” Sibanda said.
The committee was told that urban nurses receive night duty allowances ranging from $50-$70 while their counterparts in rural areas go empty-handed.

Besides the night duty allowances, urban nurses were getting on-call allowances, call-out allowances and standby allowances while those working in rural health centres only get standby allowances usually after three months.
The committee chaired by MP Ruth Labode (MDC-T) grilled Parirenyatwa on why non-health personnel such as those who work in the administrative departments were being each paid $1 025 from the Health Transition Fund when the “real people doing the work are not getting anything”.

The Health Transition Fund was launched during the inclusive government era to help reduce child mortality by scrapping maternity user fees in all State hospitals in turn, the donor community was to mobilise resources towards paying of health workers assisting such women.

The committee asked Parirenyatwa how government handled the Health Targeted Fund, which is aimed at assisting in infrastructure development at all health centres, be they government or owned by churches.
The grilling came after reports that a mission hospital, Munene Hospital in Midlands, abused $600 000 from the targeted fund while government was unaware.

1 COMMENT

  1. There is no need for Directors to benefit from HTF because they dont work over night and they are already paid well with high salaries. Most of these Directors in the MoHCC and health Parastatals are being paid by other partners in addition to their salary, allowances, HTF, and under deals. For example ZNFPC Director is being paid a total of $7000.00 per month by partners only plus his monthly salary and allowances. Thr lowest cadre at ZNFPC is taking home $176.00 after tax. This is sad

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