Stop the flight of health workers

22 Jan, 2022 - 00:01 0 Views
Stop the flight of health workers

The Chronicle

Stephen Mpofu

While illegal and draconian Western sanctions were imposed on Zimbabwe to kill any brave new economic destiny in order to remove Zanu-PF from power as reprisal for introducing land reform – under which farms were repossessed from some whites and redistributed to Zimbabweans who needed the assets the most – Covid-19 has become a gateway to the flight of health delivery frontline workers and as such, an aggravation to general conditions of life in our beloved country.

As things stand right now, the economic embargo has had a telling effect on the economy but the revolutionary party under President Emmerson Mnangagwa soldiers on regardless, and thanks to the unmitigated patriots anchoring it with the help of our all-weather friends in the East who have further demonstrated their unflinching support for this country with huge supplies of vaccines to combat the coronavirus pandemic rampaging across the global village and littering graves in its wake.

Now, economic resilience aside, Zimbabwe is educationally and to an extent professionally a human supermarket on the African continent and therefore a major attraction for foreign shoppers of highly skilled personnel who hunger after greener pastures.

To this end, a brain drain is reported to be depleting frontline health workers in our hospitals with Bulawayo’s Mpilo Central Hospital and UBH, losing nurses and doctors to overseas countries with Britain reportedly among European countries poaching our professionals, so that retired old nurses have had to be recalled to fill vacancies created by those who have left.

“They have gone and they are going,” said an insider at one hospital, who asked not to be named.

Salaries paid in local currency are apparently a major driving force behind the reported exodus of health workers in the country’s hospitals with the American dollar and the British pound preferred as pay by the departed employees who reportedly also complained of inadequate protective equipment with which they work but with no specification mentioned in this case by health insiders.

[It is common knowledge that people in southern parts of Zimbabwe prefer to do business with the South African rand and the American dollar, apparently because they can easily use those currencies when buying goods in countries across our border where the bond is not preferred.]

Heath delivery insiders mentioned above went further and said that some health workers who left Zimbabwe sought temporary employment in neighbouring countries from where they “easily find their way to Europe where people there are now reluctant to train as nurses in fear of Covid-19 so that Zimbabwean nurses and other foreigners stand in as frontline workers there”.

The reported exodus of health delivery workers, which probably affects more hospitals in the country than are known at present, obviously calls for speedy intervention by the powers-that-be in order to stabilise the situation and save lives, particularly now with the deadlier variant, Omicron, on the upsurge – and for all that humanity does not know yet about the coronavirus’ mutations, there could be more annihilative waves than those of Omicron and for which more protective life saving measures than the World Health Organisation’s protocols of social distancing, sanitising, washing hands and avoidance of large gatherings and crowds, will be imperative to save lives.

No immediate comment could be obtained from the Ministry of Health before going to press on what additional measures to the WHO protocols the Government is considering as life safeguards against any deadlier coronavirus variants.

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