THE past few months have seen hundreds of healthcare workers especially nurses resigning en masse from Harare City Council run clinics, leading to the closure of at least nine clinics around the city.
By Michael Gwarisa
The exodus of nurses has to a larger extent been driven by the deteriorating working conditions and poor remuneration, a situation which has pushed nurses to join local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) while some have moved abroad where demand for healthcare workers is also on the rise. In July, the City of Harare reported that a total 240 nurses had left the organization and the numbers have since gone up since the last announcement.
In an interview with HealthTimes on the sidelines of a tour of the United States activities at Rujeko Clinic in Harare, Dr Michael Vere, an Epidemiologist said the closure of clinics and the human resources crises had impacted heavily on service delivery.
We have a huge Human Resources crisis as the City of Harare even though this problem is not only peculiar to the City of Harare. Our employees are resigning and going where they believe they can get better remuneration. This now ends up having an impact towards service delivery.
“Right now, we have some of our clinics that have since closed down because of shortage of staff. Off hand, I might not know the names of the health institutions that closed but what I know definitely is that we have got nine clinics that are closed but we are working flat out to ensure that we reopen these clinics. One of them is Borrowdale satellite clinic, a small clinic but we are working so that the residents in those particular areas start receiving our services,” said Dr Vere.
Due to the closure of some satellite clinics residents from the affected areas are now seeking and getting services from facilities from nearby areas. Dr Vere added that they were working to improve the working and living standards of healthcare workers so as to arrest the prevailing crises.
“As the City of Harare, we are trying as much as we can to pay our employees, as we speak, we are up to date in terms of our salaries but because maybe its coming in local currency form and no longer carries the value it used to have during the dollarization era, most of our employees are leaving. This is creating a huge gap that is difficult to fill and this has an impact on service delivery.”
Dr Vere added that the human resource problem had also impacted negatively on the Electronic Health Records (EHR), making it difficult to record data for persons and patients with HIV.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean government has started the process of transferring health workers from Chitungwiza and Harare Municipalities to government payroll as part of government’s efforts to centralize essential services.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa told Journalists recently that, “Cabinet wishes to inform the public that its decision to transfer health workers from the Chitungwiza and Harare Municipalities’ payrolls to the Government payroll has started in earnest, with 60 out of the 65 nursing staff in Chitungwiza having been transferred.”