via Govt doctors earn US$283 – DailyNews Live by Thelma Chikwanha 5 MARCH 2014
Junior doctors working in Zimbabwe’s public health institutions are earning $283 per month, an income which is way below the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency’s poverty datum line of $511.
The doctors, who spend at least five years in Medical School, also receive on-call and house-call allowances at $70,75 and $129 respectively per month.
Those who opt not to stay at the hospitals where they work, receive an allowance of $250 each month, which will ultimately see them receive a total of $549 per month after factoring in deductions such as income tax or pay as you earn (Paye) and National Social Security Authority (Nssa) at $19,55, $6 and $26,14 respectively.
Those who reside at the hospital are not entitled to the $250 residential allowances, meaning they take home $297,75
The doctors are not flexible to find greener pastures as they are bonded to public health institutions for two years’ post-graduation.
The more senior specialist doctors earn anything between $1 000 and $1 400 per month, but most supplement their income by going into private practice where they run their own surgeries.
This shocking revelation comes at a time when heads of parastatals such as Public Service Medical Aid Society(Psmas) take home close to half a million dollars per month.
Arthur Mhizha, president of the Hospital Doctors’ Association, told the Daily News all efforts to have their salaries reviewed upwards had fallen on deaf ears.
“We had a meeting with the Health Services Board on the 18th of February this year, but they said they had no money and therefore could not review our salaries,” he said.
Describing the snub as a slap in the face, Mhizha added: “This is unacceptable considering the burden of responsibility we have.
“What hurts the most is that some of these doctors cannot even afford medical aid. We are also frustrated by the fact that even the lowest paid junior doctors in the region in places like Swaziland and Lesotho get at least $1 500 per month.”
While Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa was said to be out of the country on business, his deputy Paul Chimedza said his ministry was aware of the appalling doctors’ remuneration.
“We are aware of the situation but are yet to be appraised of the meeting which took place with the Health Services Board,” Chimedza said, referring further questions to the minister of Public Service Nicholas Goche.
Goche also declined to comment, referring questions to the chairperson of the Health Services Board, Lovemore Mbengeranwa. All efforts to contact Mbengeranwa at the time of going to press were futile.
Doctors at most public institutions operate under harsh conditions where some of the equipment they use is outdated. They also bear the brunt when patients fail to access the simplest of tests such as a full blood count (fbc), among other mundane tests.
A doctor who is currently based at Chitungwiza Hospital said they were demanding decent pay for their labour which will enable them to afford basic needs which other professionals access.
An irate senior doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity said the problem of poor remuneration not only affected junior doctors in public service, but those in private practice as well.
“We used to make our money in private practice but lately the situation has been really bad as some medical aid societies like Psmas are not paying what they owe us,” said the specialist. “Can you imagine we sweat it out everyday giving our all at public hospitals as we feel it is a way of giving back.
“We do this with the hope of getting our money at our private practices but that is not happening anymore because of a few corrupt individuals and the end result is that we are training doctors for other nations like South Africa and New Zealand because as soon as these young doctors finish training, they leave for greener pastures.”