BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
ZIMBABWE lost about 2 200 health workers in 2021 alone, a situation which has further strained the country’s crumbling health sector.
This was revealed in a weekly review report by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd), which said the health sector was reeling from a number of challenges, particularly staff exodus.
Recently, the United Kingdom’s National Health Services (NHS) revealed that Zimbabwe was one of the biggest exporters of labour in the health sector, ranking second after Nigeria in terms of numbers of health professionals working in the UK.
Zimcodd said the country’s health sector faced a myriad of challenges, including industrial action.
“The health sector had a gruelling and protracted industrial action in 2019 leading to the suspension of medical practitioners, the subsequent decline in health service provision, and an exodus of healthcare workers.
“In 2021, Zimbabwe lost 2 200 health workers, further afflicting an ailing and ill-resourced sector facing basic drug shortages and malfunctioning medical equipment. Health indicators have worsened given the increase in the number of women dying while giving birth and newly born children that die at birth.”
The Health and Child Care ministry recently barred the Nurses Council of Zimbabwe from issuing verification letters needed by nurses to apply for jobs abroad in a bid to stem the exodus.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo said the Zimcodd figures were an understatement as thousands of nurses had quit the civil service over poor salaries and working conditions.
“The 2 200 figure of nurses who left the service could be understated. We are seeing nurses withdrawing their membership in numbers after leaving the country and resigning,” he said.
“We have new members joining, but the rate at which nurses are leaving the country and how the government is replacing them is not tallying, leaving the majority of the health institutions in deficit of the personnel.
“Government should urgently act to address the measures to save lives as members are failing to access adequate health care.”
Health ministry secretary Jasper Chimedza yesterday requested for questions to be sent to him in writing, but had not responded to them at the time of going to print.
Last week, health professionals announced that they were no longer undertaking to on-call and night duties, citing incapacitation.
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