The freezing of posts in the public sector, especially in health, has resulted in an acute shortage of radiographers, particularly therapy radiographers, who are key in the fight against the emerging threat of cancer and other conditions.There are less than 300 practising radiographers in the country despite almost 40 students graduating every year from training centres.
Statistics show that there are now more than 900 locally-trained radiographers in other countries in the region and beyond while the service is sparsely available, pushing the price up.
Radiography includes CT scans, MRI scans, X-ray and Ultrasound scans which are necessary in the diagnosis of health problems through image production which is interpreted by doctors and radiographers.
These services are mostly beyond the reach of many with medical aid schemes helping to lessen the financial burden. However, for most other services such as X-rays, Government has cushioned patients at its institutions.
In a speech read on his behalf by the director of nursing services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Cynthia Chasokela during commemorations to mark World Radiography Day in Selous yesterday, Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa bemoaned the shortage of radiographers.
“There are some human resources for health challenges facing the health sector in the country presently among which are inadequate numbers of practising radiographers. There are less than 300 radiographers,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
He said there is an urgent need to absorb more radiographers to bring the number to satisfactory levels to step up to the challenges posed by the cancer scourge.
He said present healthcare demands require the unfreezing of posts to absorb more radiographers who are unemployed. He said engagement with Treasury is ongoing.
“These specialists use radiation for the treatment of cancer (radiotherapy). With the unprecedented increase in cancer cases being seen in Zimbabwe, there is an urgent need to have the required number of professionals to combat the scourge,” he said.
Therapy radiographers are in acute short supply with Mpilo Central and Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals sharing the bulk of the 40 practising radiographers currently in Zimbabwe.
Government has tried to ameliorate the situation in the supply of diagnostic radiographers by increasing the number of university courses.
Some hospitals have resorted to engaging unqualified personnel to man radiography departments which has compromised on the quality of service patients are getting.
Radiographers’ Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Abel Karera said the process of quantifying the shortfall is still underway.
“Some departments are short staffed and at the worst, hospitals are going without radiographers and directing unqualified ones to man radiography departments,” said Mr
The outcome of such an arrangement, he said, is poor service which is detrimental to the proper management of patients. Government has embarked on a major revamping and retooling of hospitals to enable them to offer radiography services.
Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital has four radiographers and would need two more to have a full staff complement while other hospitals in the province do not have qualified ones. herald