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Brain drain too rampant in the health sector – NewsDay

By Johannes Marisa

IN 1963, the first medical school in then Rhodesia was established and was affiliated to the University of Birmingharm. This followed the establishment of University of Rhodesia in 1952, which was funded by grants from the British and Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland governments, the British South Africa Company, Beit Trust and many more. Many medical practitioners were trained from 1963 until today with the first community nurses being trained in 1975.

Thousands of nurses have been trained through government grants and today, the nation could be boasting a robust health delivery service that has adequate staff. Unfortunately, brain drain has creeped in, with many of the experienced health professionals leaving our country for greener pastures.

Our days at University saw us receiving pay-outs from government. We would use the money to purchase basic groceries and the change would buy one-CD changer radios by then.

In essence, government would spend millions of dollars on students so that one day, they would bring much needed input to the economy. Nurses are trained at schools of nursing dotted around the country.

Hundreds of them graduate every year. Unfortunately, the country continues to lose many of our skilled health personnel to economic giants like the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Cyprus, Germany and the United States of America.

Many African countries are merely training grounds for rare skills while the bigger economic giants are there to snatch the same away. How much are we losing in training the health staff?

The public health system in Zimbabwe has been bedevilled by incessant strikes and demonstrations emanating from the same grievances. Top on the list are issues of poor remuneration, poor working conditions, lack of incentives, poor management characterised by ill-treatment of the health workforce, to mention but a few.

These are now known as chronic problems that are prevalent. So many attempts have been made in order to stem the massive brain drain but some of the strategies have naturally fizzled out and the cycle continues.

The rate at which nurses are leaving the country is alarming and if something is not done to correct the situation, I foresee the departure of special area nurses like intensive care nurses, theatre nurses, midwives which will culminate in poor health service delivery for the nation.

Government this week noted that there was, indeed, massive brain drain in the health sector and the inter-ministerial committee identified some of the causes of brain drain.

The unavailability of non-monetary incentives, shortage of accommodation, transport quagmire, lack of vehicle loans, absence of cafeteria facilities, lack of wi-fi were some of the identified causes of the deth of motivation among the health personnel.

There is no question about the adequacy of the remuneration that the health workforce is getting if comparison is done with colleagues in the region. Salaries ought to competitive if we are to retain the few remaining staff. The private medical practitioners have stood tall to keep the health of the nation Robust and at least everyone put their maximum efforts in order to tame the deadly COVID-19. Many global giants thought Africa would be decimated by the coronavirus but the astute health workforce worked diligently to save as many people as possible.

In view of the unprecedented mass exodus of the critical skills, it is, therefore, worth to consider some of the following:

  • Since the causes of brain drain have been identified by our own inter-ministerial committee, there should not be any delays in the implementation of the recommendations that are aimed at stemming brain drain.

Government should not delay to issue car loans or other incentives to medical staff or duty-free facilities for some of the requested items. This would help motivate the health workforce, and move towards skills retention.

  • Private-public partnerships are of great importance as they can result in improved infrastructure especially in public clinics and hospitals.

It should not be mere talk but action which should see our health delivery service getting better.

  • Leadership checks should be routinely done if we are serious about stemming brain drain. So many people have left government service because of ill-treatment at the hands of the superiors who include matrons-in-charge, district medical officers, provincial medical officers, chief executive officers. It is time the Health ministry investigated cases of abuse of offices at hospitals.

Some matrons attend workshops on Jadelle insertion which should be attended by a practising nurse. Because it is a funded workshop, everyone would want to be there including unnecessary people. Where are we going as a nation?

Many health workers are disgruntled in the peripheries of the countries not because of government but because of being frustrated by local management.

  • Johannes Marisa is president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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'Mthuli must present people-centric budget' – NewsDay

BY VENERANDA LANGA

FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube has been urged to come up with a people-centric 2022 National Budget and move away from past practices where the Defence ministry got the lion’s share at the expense of social services ministries.

This came out during parliamentary public hearings on the 2022 National Budget.

Participants said Ncube should prioritise social services such as health and education to enable the country to meet international budgetary allocation benchmarks such as 15% for health in line with Abuja Declaration and 20% for the education sector.

In a statement, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) said given the economic constraints in the country caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, priority should be given to provision of water and sanitation.

This year, Ncube allocated US$65 million of the US$5,14 billion national budget towards social services, which was a measly 1,30%. Zimcodd said social services can no longer be ignored given that a number of people in the country were slipping into extreme poverty.

“Although the situation is expected to ease off in 2021 and 2022, mainly due to better harvests, the slow recovery of job losses will continue to haunt the nation. Citizens have called for more attention to critical areas, and that government should desist from allocating a significant chunk of the national budget to ministries such as Defence as has been the norm, while failing to meet the international budget allocation benchmarks in ministries such as Health and Education, Infrastructure and social services.”

In the previous budget, Treasury dismally failed to offer social safety nets for women, with the Women Affairs ministry getting a paltry 0,512% allocation to cater for 52% of the population in the country, which are women.

In the 2021 budget, the Youth, Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture ministry got a paltry 0,818% allocation (less than 1% of the national budget) and yet the youth constitute 67% of the country’s population.

“It is crucial to reflect over how government will meet both the pressing and immediate demands for improved service delivery while equally putting attention on key economic sectors which should anchor growth and use the gains thereof to reinforce economic resilience going forward.”

Zimcodd said it was worrying that government continued to boast of budget surpluses when citizens were sinking deeper into poverty.

“This extinguishes trust that the budget will ever address fundamental challenges because of government’s inability to accept the current dire economic reality that most of the citizens are living under,” Zimcodd said.

  • Follow Veneranda on Twitter @LangaVeneranda

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Govt exposed over COVID-19 vaccines – NewsDay

BY LORRAINE MUROMO

MEMBERS of the public who were vaccinated with the first jab of the Indian Covaxin COVID-19 jab and failed to get the second dose might be forced to restart the vaccination exercise using Chinese Sinovac or Sinopharm doses.

The development comes at a time when neighbouring South Africa’s drugs regulator South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) on Monday announced that it was not approving an emergency use application for Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 shot for now, citing concerns about its safety for people at risk of HIV.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries that have approved the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.  Russian mining firm, ALROSA, in June donated 25 000 doses of the vaccine and promised an additional 25 000 within months.

But SAHPRA said it had asked for data demonstrating that Sputnik V was safe in settings with high HIV prevalence, but that it had not received enough information to establish that.

“SAHPRA resolved that the … (emergency) application for Sputnik V … not be approved at this time. SAHPRA is concerned that use of the Sputnik V vaccine in … a setting of a high HIV prevalence and incidence may increase the risk of vaccinated males acquiring HIV,” the statement read.

In March this year, Zimbabwe got delivery of more than 35 000 doses of the Covaxin shot which was donated by the Indian government. However, government failed to acquire the second dose, blaming it on logistical problems at the height of the COVID-19 third wave that hit India in May and June this year.

Yesterday, Health deputy minister John Mangwiro confirmed that the country had failed to secure second jabs of the Covaxin, but sought to assure panicky citizens that government did not expect any health complications for taking another vaccine.

Mangwiro said those affected could restart the inoculation exercise using Chinese vaccines.

“Those who failed to get the second Covaxin dose should go to their nearest clinics and get inoculated. They can either get Sinopharm or Sinovac. It’s known that we follow science. There is no danger to their lives. They can also opt to restart the process and receive both the first and second doses of either Sinovac or Sinopharm vaccines,” Mangwiro said.

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights secretary Norman Matara said: “Obviously, we cannot tell if there are any complications or not. We don’t have any data to that effect. We have had other vaccines mixed and there were no complications.  So we hope it will be the same with this one (Covaxin). It also points to inefficiency and a system that is weak as well as poor planning on government’s part.”

Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctors Association president Shingai Nyaguse said restarting the vaccination process was unlikely to cause health complications as the Covaxin jab worked in the same manner as Sinovac and Sinopharm.

“Given the long interval since the first dose, it is prudent to restart the process. Of course, people should quickly report to the Health ministry in the unlikely event of adverse effects,” Nyaguse said.

Health expert Cletos Masiya said since it was a donation, government should have purchased the second dose.

Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said: “It is sad and an unnecessary inconvenience for the government to be urging the people who had willingly come forward to get vaccinated to restart the vaccination process due to poor planning on the part of government without even offering an apology to the affected citizens.”

He said this would result in distrust, adding that it was high time Zimbabwe seriously considered using single dose vaccines.

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Violent Teacher In Court, Blames Student Assault On Stress – New Zimbabwe.com


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By Staff Reporter


THE Harare teacher, Talent Chingwaru, who was arrested last week for assaulting a student appeared in court Saturday and pleaded guilty to the charge.

Chingwaru (29), a mathematics teacher at Harare Einstein Tuition Centre told Magistrate Judith Taruvinga he assaulted the student as he was emotionally stressed due to a disturbing toothache.

He will appear in court this Monday for sentencing.

Prosecutor Shambadzeni Fungura told the court the state was waiting for a medical affidavit to ascertain the level of injuries sustained by the student when he was assaulted last Thursday.

In a video circulating on social media platforms, Chingwaru is seen assaulting the student with a belt, open hands, and head-butting him.

According to the state, the student, in ‘A’ Level was found by Chingwaru watching a movie in an ‘O’ Level class during lesson time. Chingwaru ordered him to go back to his class.

However, the student went to a biology classroom and where he later met Chingwaru again. The teacher confronted him resulting in a heated exchange of words before Chingwaru assaulted the student.

Chingwaru was represented by Advocate Joshua Chirambwe instructed by Mukudzei Moyo

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