A range of non-monetary incentives such as accommodation, transport and vehicle loans for health workers added to their package is seen as a way of retaining health staff and moderating the brain drain that has seen critical numbers of doctors and nurses leave Zimbabwe.
The emigration by health care staff has left public health facilities struggling to provide adequate health care for all Zimbabweans.
Speaking yesterday after the Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the Inter-Ministerial Committee had identified the causes of the brain drain in the health sector and come up with holistic ways of stemming it.
“To stem the brain drain a committee was therefore set up to look holistically into the following issues: mechanisms to accelerate provision of non-monetary incentives, such as staff accommodation, transport, vehicle loans, canteens and cafeterias, and wifi-facilities connectivity; measures to improve the remuneration of tutors in nurses training colleges and administration of nurses training colleges; judicious adjustment of monetary benefits; and addressing the disparity between the urban and rural health personnel incentives in order to attract personnel to rural areas,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government was also pursuing bilateral agreements with destination countries for local health professionals within the World Health Organisation framework.
Besides catering for the welfare of health care workers in Government institutions, Government is now transferring health workers from municipal employment in the Harare and Chitungwiza council clinics to the Public Service Commission to centralise payment of essential services and ensure timely payment of salaries.
The move to address the challenges being faced by health workers has been amplified by Covid-19 which exposed the need to strengthen public health systems.
Although Zimbabwe has been recording a decline in Covid-19 cases as the third wave recedes, the country remains on high alert for an imminent fourth wave of infections. This will need a vibrant health care staff complement.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the number of new infections had decreased during the past week with the daily average of new cases almost halving over the week.
“This is attributed to the comprehensive response by the Government. There has been a general decline of Covid-19 cases reported in schools.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care remains on high alert to contain any surges in Covid-19 cases in learning institutions,” she said.
The Government was also implementing measures to increase the pace of national vaccination.
As of October 11, a total of 3 176 744 people had received their first dose of the vaccine while 2 417 442 had received their second jab.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care has dispatched a team to Chitungwiza to raise awareness and ramp up vaccination efforts to raise vaccine uptake by residents in Chitungwiza.
“Cabinet wishes to further inform citizens that the country is expecting a delivery of 5 000 000 syringes in November 2021. This will complement the 13 243 200 Covid-19 vaccines which have so far been procured,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.