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State of the nation address: Healthcare expectations

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THE entire world has been ravaged by the deadly coronavirus since December 2019. So many countries have gone into economic recession where economic growth has slowed, unemployment has gone up with prices being unstable and unpredictable. Production stalled in many countries as companies close.

Johannes Marisa

A lot of governments channelled funds to the health sector in order to resuscitate the sector which saw an improvement in infrastructure, medical and surgical supplies et cetera.

Today, we will open our ears to the address by President Emmerson Mnangagwa when he gives his State of the Nation Address at Parliament Building.

The address comes in the midst of the coronavirus that has torn the world with at least 41 million affected so far and more than 1,1 million deaths recorded.

People of all professions have succumbed to this terrible virus. Europe is in the midst of a second wave of the virus and a lot of British cities have moved to level two and three of lockdown. This is a calamity for sure.

Globally, health employees have been saluted for their spirited efforts in trying to contain the coronavirus.

Zimbabwe did its best despite the numerous challenges that are bedevilling the health sector.

Despite the strike by nurses and doctors during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the private sector stood firm.
A lot of lives were saved despite the limited resources.

So many treatment modalities were employed and we succeeded during that phase. We are hopeful that we will not be hit by a second wave of infections considering the high degree of complacency, ignorance and defiance by the general population.

Masks are no longer worn in many areas. I was recently in Mhondoro where wearing a mask is considered taboo.
Health delivery system is the organisation of people, institutions and resources that deliver healthcare services to meet the needs of the population.

Included here are issues of accessibility, expenditure and resources.

Those who work to deliver health services have their own expectations while the general population and the government also have theirs.
There has been a lot of talk about the restructuring in the health sector which the Health minister Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga promised to undertake.

The following are some of the healthcare issues the President is expected to highlight to the nation:

lThe issue of health equity and equality in our country. A lot of people have failed to access healthcare because of unbearable costs, shortage of staff and medicines. This has forced so many people to turn to traditional healers and prophets.

lCapacitation of the health worker — It is undeniable that the public health workers were relatively well-paid members of the community and now have been reduced to beggars.

A lot of nurses, doctors, pharmacists cannot afford to pay rent for a three-roomed cottage, let alone send their children to even Grade B schools.

Health workers need to be mobile in order to respond to emergencies at work.
lMotivation of the health worker — A motivated health worker is key to service delivery. Recognition, respect, job security are critical if workers are to be motivated.

Responses to health workforce’s demands should not be vindictive. Factors such as competitive salaries, incentives, loans are vital to motivate these professionals.
A healthy nation is an integral ingredient of development.

It has been long after the provision of stands and car loans was stopped. It is vital that government should seriously considered the issues raised by its employees.
l Improvement of health infrastructure — There are so many hospitals and clinics which cannot offer expected medical services because of obsolete infrastructure, lack of key resources et cetera.

I have witnessed a good number of surgical operations that could not be done because there was no intensive care bed for post-operative care.
Some of the hospitals especially rural health centres are in total darkness because there is no power back-up or the available generators have no fuel.

This is catastrophic for patients like neonates in incubators, patients on ventilators or on operation tables.
lElimination of corruption in the health sector — The President is presiding over a health sector that is mired in corruption starting from primary level of health delivery service up to the Health ministry head office.

There has been rampant abuse of State resources like vehicles and fuel at many provincial medical directors, district and hospital administration offices.
Corruption should be nipped in the bud once and for all if health delivery service is to improve.

We expect a robust health delivery system characterised by a healthy relationship between government and its employees if we are succeed.

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