By Staff Reporter
GOVERNMENT has began deployment of an additional 2 000 nurses to help improve services delivery in health institutions across the country, a Cabinet minister has revealed.
Health delivery in the country is reportedly being hampered by shortage of personnel, especially nurses owing to a recruitment freeze that was imposed by government during the time of the inclusive government as a way of containing the runaway wage bill.
Zimbabwe’s public service wage bill currently stands at an unsustainably 91.7 percent of total budget revenue.
Although there is a recruitment freeze, the country has continued to train nurses at various institutions and according to Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, there are about 4 000 qualified nurses who are yet to get employment.
So dire is the situation that some of these trained nurses have gone for about three to four years without finding employment and government is reportedly looking at exporting some of them to other needy countries.
Presenting his Annual Budget Review for 2016 and the 2017 Outlook, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said government has intervened to save the health service delivery situation albeit on staggered basis.
“The 2017 Budget has intervened to improve service delivery in the health sector through the recruitment of an additional 2000 nurses on a staggered basis who are being deployed as follows, new clinics 563 posts, mission institutions 352, central, provincial and district hospitals 786 and rural district council clinics 299 posts.
“In addition, 250 Government Medical Officer posts were created to improve staffing levels at our central and provincial hospitals.
“Furthermore, cognisant that the public health delivery system needed replacement nurses, doctors, pharmacists among other critical health care workers, treasury recruited 788 replacement health care workers over six month period to end of June 2017,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Chinamasa has revealed that the Health Fund Levy introduced in February will help insure there is additional funding to health sector.
“The 2017 Budget introduced a Health Fund Levy of 5cents for every dollar of mobile airtime and data, under the theme ‘Talk, Surf and Save a Life’.
“Accordingly, US$8.2 million has been mobilised to date for the purchase of drugs and equipment for public hospitals and clinics, with Health Fund Levy resources ring fenced for this purpose,” Chinamasa said.
The Finance Minister also told Parliament that the Health Fund Levy is collecting about US$4 million per month.
However, last week Parliamentary Committee Chairperson on Health and Child Care Dr Ruth Labode demanded that there should be transparency in the collection and distribution of the Health Fund Levy.
According to Labode, mobile phone companies should also be given an opportunity to confirm the authenticity of the amount that would have been collected as a way of curbing abuse of the fund.
Health Fund Levy and the Aids Levy are some of the ways that the Zimbabwean government is using to help improve local funding to the health sector.–