Council faces health staff shortage

Gweru City Council faces health staff shortage, which could affect health service delivery, a senior council official has revealed.

By Stephen Chadenga

Speaking at the 2018 budget review meeting held at Town House last week, council director of finance, Edgar Mwedzi, said the local authority had a shortage of environmental health personnel and nurses, with the staff deficit contributing to challenges in containing the recent typhoid outbreak.

“Council has been faced with environmental risk factors leading to public health time bomb such as the recent typhoid outbreak and looming cholera,” he said.

“The main challenge has to do with staff shortages in key posts of environmental health personnel.

“Currently, council has three health environmental technicians out of an establishment of nine. On the nursing staff, council has got 89 nurses out of an establishment of 108.”

Mwedzi said employing more staff to cover the gap would entail an additional employee costs bill of $200 000, which he said was not sustainable.

The city treasurer said the council’s eight clinics and one hospital (Isolation Hospital) were running at a loss, with employee costs gobbling $880 053 and an expenditure of over $900 000 at the health centres.

“The total incurred expenditure for the eight months (January to August 2018) was $909 388 against received income of $44 012, which is 4,83% of expenditure,” he said.

“This is one account which makes a huge deficit and this has implications to the provision of other services as resources are diverted from other sources to fund the deficit.

“The major expense is on employee costs which gobbled $880 053 or 96,77% of incurred expenditure. The account used to receive funding from central government in the form of health grant shortfall, but this has since stopped and Isolation Hospital only received $2 525 as patient fees from government for the period under review.”

Mwedzi said although council had this year budgeted $64 000 for the refurbishment of Welfare, Ivene and Totonga clinics, the work could not be completed due to financial constraints.

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