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Health workers welfare a priority: VP

Upgrades in conditions of service for health care personnel remain a Government priority, Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga reiterated yesterday.

Speaking on public health and national security in Zimbabwe at the Zimbabwe National Defence University to participants of the national defence course 10/2021, the Vice President said although the health system in the country had its own challenges which needed to be addressed, a thorough and effective response to the Covid-19 pandemic which won international plaudits was a demonstration that the state of the health system was not as bad as depicted by some.

Emphasising on improving the welfare of workers, VP Chiwenga said: “The effect is that quality of care is compromised and over-burdening staff, resulting in burn out, with undesirable consequences on client satisfaction, in respect to service received.

“Equitable distribution of staff, particularly specialists, remains a challenge. Most specialists are in the major cities of Harare and Bulawayo. Attracting specialists to other cities has not been very successful.

“Some of the reasons given for not taking up posts in smaller cities and towns include inadequate accommodation, lack of opportunities for private practice and unavailability of school facilities for children.

“Subsequently, there is a view that Government wants everything to happen in Harare and Bulawayo, which has obvious subjective ramifications when judging Government performance and social cohesion.

“At this point, let me underscore that Government is committed to improving the conditions of service for health care personnel, so that everyone is motivated to work in any part of the country.”

This is being done among other things through the availing of accommodation for the workers, said VP Chiwenga. Several international endorsements have hailed Zimbabwe for defying odds to mount a thorough and effective response to the Covid-19 pandemic and managing to minimise the effects of the disease on its citizenry.

This follows President Mnangagwa’s declaration of the pandemic as a state of disaster from the outset that led to improved Government resource allocation for the health sector, as well as marshalling the private sector to come on-board and help to boost health care delivery.

“Our response to Covid-19 pandemic is a strong testimony of the state of our public health system,” said VP Chiwenga.

He said the country had a health system with discernible levels of care from primary, through secondary and tertiary to quaternary.

Each of these levels is administered through a governance structure, which allows for decentralised decision-making, he said.

“The lowest level of care at the moment is the rural health care centre,” said VP Chiwenga.

“The design was such that all citizens were to be within an 8km to 10km radius of a health facility.

“While this was almost achieved, the land redistribution resulted in new settlements, which necessitated a new health services infrastructure.”

Government is working on equitable health distribution at every level of sufficient quality and in June, VP Chiwenga dared local pharmaceutical companies to look beyond their largely retail role and invest in the production of medical consumables as the Government looks to boost local production.

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