Thursday 28 November 2019


THE Government is working on modalities to restore minimum service delivery at the country’s central hospitals in Bulawayo and Harare through the deployment of clinical officers who are stationed in the provinces.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, the Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo said the health delivery system in the provinces was better compared to central hospitals hence the need to deploy personnel to the referral hospitals where services are critical.

Central hospitals such the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), Mpilo Central Hospital and Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals were among the most affected following the public hospitals medical doctors’ strike which has stretched for more than 63 days, forcing the Health Service Board (HSB) to institute ongoing disciplinary hearings on November 1, resulting in the dismissal of 448 doctors so far. 

“Government is working to ensure that minimum service delivery is made available through the deployment of clinical officers who are stationed in the provinces. Health care service delivery system in our provinces is better as compared to our central hospitals. There are a few provinces where doctors have withdrawn labour,” he said.

Dr Moyo, however, noted that the only challenge being experienced was that of accessibility due to high costs of travel.

He said the security sector has also seconded their doctors to offer services in the five central and provincial hospitals as efforts are underway to normalise the situation at the country’s public health institutions.

The Minister said despite the current economic challenges, the Government is committed to improving the conditions of service for all health care workers. 

The Minister said the Government will soon advertise the posts that have fallen vacant following the dismissal of the doctors who recently engaged on an illegal strike that left the country’s health delivery system crippled.

“There are ongoing efforts to normalise the situation. The labour courts ruled the incapacitation by the doctors as unlawful. It went further to order that the doctors go back to their work within two days which if they did not, would allow for disciplinary action. Even after that, Government continued encouraging the doctors to come back to work but they did not. There was no alternative but to start the disciplinary action,” said Dr Moyo.

Five hundred and eight disciplinary cases on doctors that have not been coming to work have so far been heard, of which 498 were found guilty, with 448 doctors having been discharged from service.

In addition to the 508 disciplinary cases heard by November 25, an additional 43 doctors from the provinces are awaiting hearings while serving of charge letters for 57 senior doctors at central hospitals commenced on the same day.

The Minister said the Government is also working on engaging its partners including the Global Fund for an upward review of health worker retention allowance for a period of up to two years.

He said the proposal will be further discussed at a high-level technical dialogue with donors scheduled for today. 

“The World Bank is also looking at giving assistance to health care personnel. The procurement processes are proceeding and Treasury has availed some foreign currency, although it is not enough,” he said.

Dr Moyo said the construction of institutional accommodation for health workers in the medium to long term is proceeding through the Ministry of National Housing.

“One of the Ministry’s key objectives is to achieve patient satisfaction by providing efficient and effective diagnosis and treatment of patients through the availability of appropriate and functional medical equipment. Our health facilities are faced with a serious shortage of critical medical equipment as a result of failure to provide a replacement budget over the years,” he said.

Dr Moyo said most of the equipment is now obsolete while others require major service and support with consumables, expendables and spares.

“Although Government is making considerable effort to address the situation by making substantial investment in new health care technology, there is need to focus even more on ways to sustain the existing equipment,” he said.

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has provided US$1 million towards the purchase of some equipment. The Ministry through partners has also provided US$3, 5 million worth of equipment.   Herald


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