Nurses should invest in private clinics as a means of creating extra income streams and curbing brain drain in the country, an official has said.
Last year, the Matabeleland region alone lost hundreds of health workers which severely affected the effective healthcare delivery at a time when the country was also grappling with Covid-19.
Most of these healthcare workers were reportedly trekking to the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, which recently embarked on a massive recruitment in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Health Services Board (HSB), as at November 30 last year, a total of 2 246 health care professionals had left the service, more than double the number that left in 2020 which stood at 993.
In 2019 and 2018 a total of 767 and 756 employees left the sector respectively. This has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic which has increased demand for healthcare workers across the globe.
Speaking during a press conference against the backdrop of International Nurses Day commemorations in Gwanda last week, Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union president Mr Joseph Chiduku said brain drain can be curbed if nurses can augment their salaries.
“Nurses are leaving for the UK, USA and other countries because the money they’re getting is not enough. But besides getting a salary, nurses should find means of earning an extra income. Although we call on the government to revise salaries as nurses are struggling to make ends meet, we also want to avoid brain drain and one of the ways we want to do this is through making extra income from private practice. Already nurses are into private practice but they’re going into private practice as workers for doctors,” said Mr Chiduku.
He said nurses should participate in private health practice as equal partners.
“We’re encouraging nurses to focus on the positive. Currently, it’s the doctors and surgeons running the show but nurses can do it too. They should also open their own practices and be masters of their own destiny. Already nurses do locums whereby they go to work when they’re on duty and then do private work when they’re off duty from their regular jobs. They can continue to do this but leading from the front and pioneering their own clinics,” said Mr Chiduku.
Government last year embarked on a deliberate plan to improve the lives and conditions of services for health care workers through the provision of non-monetary benefits among others.
The move is expected to reduce the rate at which skilled staff is leaving service.
HSB is already working towards refining its strategy for the period 2021-2023 in line with national priority areas defined in the National Development Strategy-1 (NDS1) with particular focus on making inputs towards human capital development and the health and well-being of Zimbabweans.