By Kudakwashe Pembere
OVER 2400 Zimbabwean nurses and doctors left the public sector healthforce between 2020 and 2021, Infinite Health News has learned.
This revelation comes amidst a growing concern of health workers’ exodus to greener pastures.
The numbers gleaned by this publication from the Health Service Board were recorded between January 2020 and August 2021.
In 2020 there were 576 nurses who terminated their contracts alongside 49 doctors. Between January and August this year, the number for nurses who fled from the public health sector jumped to 1 492 with the doctors’ number rising to 130.
In an interview, Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) Mr Enock Dongo said the fissure widens each day which might take more time to cover.
“There is a serious shortage of nurses especially the senior nurses. They are going out of the country leaving a gap which needs to be covered. This gap might take longer to be covered because the moment you lose the senior nurses the health delivery system, quality of care is compromised,” he said noting public health institutions are only left with junior and or student nurses. “Those few are having burnouts, and they are juniors with noone to mentor them. Ultimately this will affect the majority of Zimbabweans because they rely on public hospitals.”
He further explained this burnout is as a result of lack of mentorship.
“They are burning out because of shortages, and lack of mentorship. Psychologically they are affected because they are left out to take care of everything even things they were not supposed to do if the seniors were there. There are things they are supposed to learn from the seniors because a practical job, as nursing is a profession gained through experience. You can only get experience through your seniors who mentor. So without those, there is a problem,” Mr Dongo said.
Mr Dongo also said burnout compromises service delivery.
“We then talk of burnout, burnout will give a poor health delivery result because when somebody is tired, definitely their thinking, their performance will be compromised and affected
“They will not give the best. So ultimately, the people of Zimbabwe will suffer because of this shortage, because of this burnout. Whenever you were supposed to get maximum care, definitely it could not be the same as if everything is normal,” the ZINA president said.
In a Tuesday post cabinet media briefing, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa highlighted that Government intends to address the health sector braindrain by availing housing, motor vehicle schemes among other non-monetary provisions.
“As announced at the last Post-Cabinet Press Briefing, Government is focusing on accelerating the provision of non-monetary benefits to health workers as a short to medium-term measure to stem the brain drain observed in the health sector.
“Accordingly, completion of the model flats to be constructed for health professionals across the country’s provinces is being expedited. The Civil Servants vehicle loan scheme rates are being reviewed, while a strategy whereby Government acquires vehicles for health worker beneficiaries, with the loan being amortised through an agreed framework is being worked out.
“Regarding the provision of canteen or cafeteria services at health institutions, seed money will be provided to revamp and operationalise existing canteens as well as construct new ones were the facilities are not available,” she said.
Noticing a massive outflux of nurses to South Africa, the country’s Public Health Department’s Directorate reportedly rejected applications by health workers from Zimbabwe on grounds that its neighbour faced a staff crisis due to migration.