More cash for health staff

HARARE - Donors have agreed to hike allowances for top health staff in government service, an increase that has been approved by the Health Services Board (HSB).

According to documents at hand, the hike was effected after a meeting held on January 24 between officials from United Nations agency Unicef and ministry of Health and Child Welfare officials.

The increase is under the Health Transition Fund (HTF) — a fund set up by donors to help Zimbabwe recover from thec collapse of health institutions following a decade of economic meltdown.

Only top officials regarded as “critical” are eligible for the increase.

“Please note that those marked responsible were awarded 50 percent of the substantive member and those marked acting were awarded 75 percent of the substantive member,” said an approval letter by HSB executive director Ruth Kaseke to Unicef.

“You are hereby authorised to pay the respective allowances to the individuals on the databases.”

Close to 50 top officials in the ministry of Health and Child Welfare and the HSB have received $4 100 each as payment for the past four months, on top of their government salaries.

The HTF aims to raise $436 million in the next five years for healthcare activities, meant to revamp the Zimbabwean health sector and reduce maternal mortality of 960 deaths per 100 000 live births.

Sources within the ministry of Health claim that authorities were desperate to exhaust the budget for the year ending March 2013 by hiking allowances for top officials so that they can be eligible for more cash.
Unicef has been entrusted by donor countries to manage the HTF and it is also the paying agent unlike in the Global Fund retention where Crown Agency is responsible for payments.

Critics say top officials are strategically positioning themselves for more HTF allowances at a time government and district hospitals operate without general hand assistants and mortuary attendants.

Sources also revealed that the low grade workers are not receiving any increments. Other critical health professionals are not considered under the HTF.

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