CLOSE to 300 doctors and nurses left Zimbabwe’s public health sector in 2019 to join private practice locally and in neighbouring countries as a result of poor working conditions.
This was said by Health Services Board (HLB) chairperson Dr Paulinus Sikosana while addressing stakeholders at the ongoing National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) and Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel workshop here.
The HSB is a negotiating partner at the NJNC as it represents the health sector particularly doctors.
Dr Sikosana said the brain drain, which almost crippled the country’s health delivery system, is a result of economic challenges.
“Public health continues to lose its workforce to the private sector locally and abroad. While the situation was a bit stable between 2010 and 2016, between January and June 2019, about 51 nurses and 14 doctors left the public health sector in search of greener pastures. The numbers increased between June and December when 155 nurses and 43 doctors also left,” said Dr Sikosana.
He said the brain drain was a huge blow to the country’s health sector.
“This is a wake-up call to us as public health and we have sought to interrogate this with the Sadc region. What is certain is that the economic downturn dealt the country a huge blow in its efforts to address the challenges,” Dr Sikosana said.
He said the HSB, which was established in 2005, will continue to engage its workers for a win-win situation and improvement of their working conditions.
Dr Sikosana said Government remains committed to forging synergies in the NJNC for holistic frameworks because workers representation is fundamental.
He said plans are underway to reintroduce the health worker retention scheme for all health workers.
“There is a need for adequate financial rewards in the health sector while we should also make sure the tools of trade such as medicines and equipment are readily available for members,” said Dr Sikosana.
He said the HSB was also investing in technology as a long-term remedy for brain drain where part of the clinical work can be done electronically and digitally.
Last year, the HSB summoned hundreds of doctors to a disciplinary hearing for violating some labour provisions with 448 of them eventually being fired for failing to report for duty.