'Govt neglecting health sector'

HARARE - While access to health is a basic human right, in Zimbabwe it remains a pipe dream as the State fails to ensure that hospitals are functional, something that observers say is a serious indictment to the governing party Zanu PF.

This year alone doctors and nurses have been downing their tools over little or non-payment of their salaries and thus putting the health sector in a dicey spot.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said Zanu PF’s lack of focus on important issues has been negatively affecting the health sector.

“The Zanu PF regime has got an insatiable appetite for living life on the fast lane, spending money on luxuries such as buying expensive Mercedes Benz limousines and swanky sports utility Range Rovers for its ministers and other top bureaucrats. The Zanu PF regime has a penchant for priori ti sing the wrong things,” he said.

Junior doctors refused to sign contracts of employment, claiming the salary was too meagre.

In Mutare several nurses also went on a strike, claiming they were not being paid their salaries by a broke council.

Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) and Family Aids Support Organisation told our sister paper the Daily News during a recent tour of the clinics in Mutare that some of their members went for days without ARVs as the staff was failing to manage the huge numbers of patients.

“The clinics, particularly Sakubva, are overwhelmed by the number of people who need to be resupplied with ARVs and the staff on the ground is failing to cope.

“At Sakubva we counted no less than 300 patients who could not be served by the two people manning the department at the moment,” ZNNP+ Manicaland provincial coordinator Lloyd Dembure said.

As the same situation prevails in many hospitals, Gutu said government is just failing to honour simple obligations.

“They (health staff) are simply demanding a decent income that the government should easily afford if it had its priorities in order. Only a few weeks ago, the government splashed $6 million buying two mansions for the two vice presidents. Actually, Zimbabwe doesn’t need two vice presidents. We can make do with only one...,” he said.

He further said that Zimbabwe is being run by a “rogue and kleptocratic” regime which does not care about the suffering of the toiling masses.

“Instead of making sure that taxpayers’ money is used wisely by rehabilitating and retooling public health facilities such as clinics and public hospitals as well as paying medical staff a decent, living wage, the regime would rather priori ti se footing expensive and unnecessary foreign travel for President Robert Mugabe and his list of hangers, including Cabinet ministers and other top government officials,” Gutu said.

As the country’s health sector hits rock bottom, several ministers and government officials including Mugabe, have been receiving treatment abroad.

In most cases, the ailing Mugabe has been to Singapore on countless times to seek treatment, a feat that no ordinary Zimbabwean can afford.

Several poor Zimbabweans, who are bearing the brunt of the “sick” economy, have been left at the mercy of poorly-stocked hospitals, whose functions are often crippled by incessant personnel strikes.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the Mugabe-led government enjoyed spending money on less important issues, while neglecting the health sector.

“They would rather host a million dollar birthday bash for the aged leader, sponsor multiple foreign trips and sponsor useless rallies while health workers are not paid.

“The health sector has been poorly funded and is collapsing. The government is not making meaningful investment in that sector. This is why when ministers and the president are sick they go abroad for health services. They cannot trust their own health sector,” Saungweme said.

He said it was clear that the situation was much worse than the 2008 scenario, when every economic sector was crippled.

“In 2008 we had hyperinflation which was easier to fix through introducing a stronger currency but now we have deflation which is trickier to solve in the midst of a governance and political crisis.

“We also have drought this year. In 2008 the third sector, NGO sector was better funded and would easily come in to the rescue of the poor and vulnerable. But this year we have reduced funding for that sector due to donor fatigue among others.

“We are facing a dire situation worse than 2008…banks no longer provide enough money — we now have a liquidity crisis, the government is broke, strikes will soon be the order of the day. This time the government is clueless and have run out of ideas,” he said.

Comments (1)

govt is wasting tax payers money by giving full salary plus bonus to trainee nurses; trainee environmental health technicians, who at the end of 3yrs to 4 years roam the streets. why don't govt improve the welfare of those who are employed and the same time reduce the salary of those trainees. imagine a trainee environmental health technician spend the who term at college of full salary, only to be deployed to stations on holidays for about 3 weeks only. these people should fund fund their training just like teachers.

Tachiona - 6 April 2016

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