BY VENERANDA LANGA
THE Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) Mashonaland provincial chairperson, Edward Chagonda yesterday said poverty among health personnel was worsening with some government doctors and nurses no longer able to buy most basic goods.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Peace and Security, Chagonda said medical practitioners were even finding it difficult to pay for transport to travel to their rural areas.
“As Parliament, why do you keep quiet when your health is being straddled? It is your health senators. How do doctors show the light when they are given broken down equipment to use? Who are you going to represent when all the people are dead?” he rhetorically asked the senators.
Chagonda said while epidemiology and disease surveillance was being well handled, it was being funded by donors.
He challenged senators to question government on why the country wanted to rely on donations when it can be self-sufficient.
“We need the 15% health funding as stipulated by the Abuja Declaration because how do you think we are going to sort out the issues when you cannot avail the resources,” Chagonda asked.
He said in the 1980s, Zimbabwe had a robust healthcare system equivalent to that of the United Kingdom and the country even trained doctors from other countries. Chagonda said medical practitioners were pained to see deterioration even at training institutions.
“There is nurse shortage at hospitals because the establishment being used is of the 1980s. Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals is training over 200 doctors, but it was established to train 50 doctors,” he said.
Zima secretary-general Enock Mayida later told NewsDay that even with recent government salary increases, Zimbabwe’s medical personnel still earned measly salaries compared to their counterparts in the region.
Mayida said it was better to pay in stable currency because the salaries of doctors if converted to United States dollars were equivalent to US$250.
“It is better that the salaries be pegged at a stable currency, for example, US dollar because even if you give a 150% salary increase on nothing, the costs of goods and services keep going up. Compared to the region, a junior doctor gets an equivalent of US$2 500,” Mayida said.
Another doctor, Stanford Chigumira said Zimbabwe was lucky that there had not been a single case of the coronavirus.
“With this weak health infrastructure we will be finished,” Chigumira said.
A junior doctor Tapiwa Mungofa said the poor remuneration given to medical personnel was forcing them to look for greener pastures.
“Zimbabwe is losing experienced doctors. In the past doctors used to go to countries like United Kingdom, Canada, Australia or the US, but now Zimbabwean doctors are even flocking to countries like Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique,” Mungofa said.
The committee said the Zima evidence was a big wake-up call as the health situation had become a security issue.