ONE doctor is servicing up to 53 500 people in Matabeleland North, as a shortage of medical practitioners bites. The optimum number of doctors is one for 1 000 people according to the World Health Organisation, but Matabeleland North faces a critical shortage.
BY SHARON SIBINDI
The province has appealed to the government for more doctors amid concerns there is a critical shortage of medical practitioners in the region.
Matabeleland North provincial medical doctor, Nyasha Masuka told Southern Eye on Tuesday that the province has 14 doctors instead of 54 and the region, together with Matabeleland South province, were shunned by medical practitioners.
“Since January last year, we only have one doctor at Tsholotsho District Hospital, one at Binga hospital, one at Nyathi hospital and two at St Luke’s hospital, which is the busiest in the province,” he said.
“So, in total, in the province, we have about 14 doctors out of an expected establishment of 54. So, this is a very high vacancy rate.”
Masuka said, two years ago, some hospitals in the province had two or three doctors each, as there was a retention allowance the medical practitioners were receiving.
“The unfortunate part is that, it was donor-funded. So when this retention allowance fell away last year, most doctors went back to school to do their Master’s (degrees) or went to work in central hospitals, where they can do private jobs and earn extra money,” he said.