The Herald, June 28, 2003
SEVENTY-SEVEN medical specialists from the Democratic Republic of Congo arrived in Harare yesterday on a three-year working programme which is expected to ease pressure on the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.
The delegation headed by Mr Lukali El Fataki comprises 54 doctors, 11 pharmacists and three radiographers. They will be deployed to the country’s provincial and district hospitals.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Mrs Elizabeth Xaba, who received the delegation, said the deployment would be done soon to hospitals most in need throughout the country.
Mrs Xaba said the gesture symbolised friendship between the two countries.
“We are happy that our protocol is the first to reap from the long-standing relationship with the DRC”, she said.
In response, Mr El Fataki said: “We have a feeling of joy because we have the blessing of our two presidents. A few months ago, we had the Zimbabwean soldiers in the DRC; today we have the DRC doctors in Zimbabwe. This shows the maturity of our relationship.”
The DRC doctors come at a time when the country’s junior and middle doctors have gone on strike, which has been declared illegal by the Public Service Commission.
In February the country also received a delegation of 74 doctors and other medical practitioners from Cuba.
The move then was described by the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, as a brave show of patriotism by the Cuban doctors.
Dr Parirenyatwa was voicing his concern over the huge exodus of Zimbabwean doctors mainly to Western countries, citing poor remuneration and working conditions.
Mrs Xaba dismissed the issue of language barrier as trivial, citing the example of the Cuban doctors who had not reported any major communication problems since their arrival in February.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
SADC’s intervention in the DRC following rebel attacks against President Laurent Desiree Kabila’s government, opened an important channel in regional peace and integration — exchange of human resources.
The Congolese health personnel demonstrated that professionals from various parts of the world could easily adapt to the Zimbabwean environment, despite differences in language, culture and in some cases, matters of faith. It has been easy for the Second Republic to implement the “Zimbabwe is open for business” strategy.
A refocus on human resource management in the health care system, and more research are needed to develop policies that ensure staff retention.
The variation of size, distribution and composition within a county’s health care workforce is of great concern.
Workforce mobility can create imbalances that require better workforce planning and attention to issues of pay and other rewards; and improved management of the workforce
Retention is difficult in the healthcare industry for several reasons, one of which is economic challenges.
Understanding the key components surrounding the importance of measuring employee turnover, learning how it affects patient care, and realising what is needed to retain quality employees is critical.