Source: ‘Govt recruitment freeze overloading doctors’ | The Herald December 23, 2016
Auxilia Katongomara Bulawayo Bureau
THE Government’s freeze on recruitment is compromising public health with a single doctor being overloaded by about 250 000 patients, a Cabinet minister has revealed.
Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Cde Aldrin Musiiwa said the low doctor-patient ratio in the country was very worrying.
“Well, in terms of ratio it is 0,0792 per 1 000 population. To put it more simply, we have got less than one doctor for every 250 000 people. The ideal ratio would be to have at least three doctors per every 1 000 patients,” said Cde Musiiwa.
Cde Musiiwa was responding to a question by MDC-T legislator Gift Chimanikire on the doctor to patient ratio in the country and what Government was doing to address it.
“Our response at the moment is that we are actually training enough doctors for the country. We are lobbying Treasury to allow us more posts so that we can employ more doctors. We are training enough doctors and if we have enough posts we should be able to have the required ratio,” said Cde Musiiwa.
He said the country was churning out about 360 doctors every year but the problem was retention of the medical practitioners.
“Once we have graduated these doctors and deployed them in the system, we are losing a lot of doctors both to the region and internationally.
“Although the replacement rate is okay, we are not retaining enough doctors in the country. So, until we have enough money in Treasury to create more posts, it is going to take some time to reach the required ratio,” he said.
The Deputy Minister said Government has provided accommodation and vehicle loans to junior doctors in a bid to retain them.
“At the moment, our salaries compared to those paid in the region and abroad are much lower. Until our economic situation improves, it is going to be very difficult,” said Cde Musiiwa.
“However, what we have done as a ministry in respect of junior doctors, is to provide accommodation within the institutions where they work at low rentals. We have also provided vehicle loans as a way of retaining them.”
MP Chimanikire further asked Cde Musiiwa to state the number of trained graduate nurses who are unemployed and what remedial action the ministry was taking to ensure that the training programmes are of economic value.
“At the moment, we have about 3 150 registered general nurses who have graduated and are out of employment.
Besides that, we also have 1 100 primary care nurses who have also graduated and are awaiting employment,” said Cde Musiiwa.
A majority of cases of negligence in hospitals that have resulted in patients dying have been blamed on doctors and nurses’ fatigue.