via No hope for government doctors? – The Zimbabwean 23.9.2015
The morale of doctors working in Zimbabwe’s government hospitals has over the past few months experienced an unprecedented and exponential decline.
The reasons are multifaceted and basically are inextricably intertwined to the governance and socioeconomic meltdown that has engulfed Zimbabwe.
With the current trends it is logical to assume that those who have been tasked with the mandate of providing health care and looking after the needs of those who provide health care have not only gone into hibernation but equally their minds are far much outweighed by the capacity of the offices they hold.
It is equally an indisputable fact that doctors in Zimbabwe rank lowest the world over in terms of the gross disparities between their academic intuition and professional excellence as compared to the prevailing pathetic levels of motivation. At this juncture it may be prudent to qualify the aforementioned assertions
Failure to deliver on yesteryear promises
The industrial action by junior and middle level doctors late last year was partly resolved after a stern indication by the parent ministry that in the short to medium term a raft of changes will be effected to improve the livelihoods of doctors working in government hospitals. To qualify, government promised to review upwards the basic salaries from the pathetic $280.00 per month, government promised to provide free vehicle duty facilities, government promised to revise upwards housing allowances for doctors working in government hospitals. These promises now rank in our national archives where the promise of the Matebeleland Zambezi Water Project has been equally archived.
High costs for professional development
Despite the scarcity of specialist doctors in Zimbabwe, the cost of specialist training continues to spiral and now currently surpasses regional averages. Over the years government had subsidized training of not only specialist doctors but the generality of basic medical students. The recent fees increments by the University of Zimbabwe for student specialist doctors should not go unrebuked and is a clear indication that the health ministry has clearly unfuturistic mindsets. How on earth can they fail to clamor for the subsidizing of specialist training in a country with a health system crippled by torrential levels of brain drain!
Irrelevant, Irresponsible, Arrogant representative bodies
Where on earth is the Health Services Board in wake of all this mediocrity! Are they still trying to come to terms with the Auditor general’s report that exposed their ruthless attack on taxpayers money through clandestine and illicit dealings? Rentals have been increased in most government provided accommodation at both urban and district hospitals, despite the deteriorating infrastructure. Doctors in Zimbabwe continue to wallow in the gallows of poverty and deprivation. The erratic, unpredictable and insulting funds from the donors (Crowne Agent) remain clearly unclear with regards to their timing, amount, source and consistency. Is the HSB simply an irrelevant and useless extension of government bureaucracy?
From hand to mouth to organized protest
Radical is a label attached to those endeavoring to get freedom. Jesus Christ then was labeled a radical and actually was later crucified. His mission was to free the world from sin and he was labeled a radical. When a doctor, who is tasked with the huge responsibility of delivering God given lives survives from hand to mouth it becomes inevitable that doctors will not be ashamed to be labeled radicals. The health ministry should brace for a nationwide and devastating coordinated industrial action.
This article was written by Dr Fortune Nyasha Nyamande. Dr F N Nyamande is the current president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association and writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on 2 Edmonds Avenue Belvedere, Harare, Zimbabwe +263 772 832 113