Health workers are underpaid, Parirenyatwa admits

HARARE - Health minister David Parirenyatwa has acknowledged that health workers in Zimbabwe are underpaid adding that the current impasse between government and doctors is now being handled by “higher offices.”

Parirenyatwa told the Senate yesterday that Zimbabwe needs to prioritise the health sector.

“I really think that our health workers are underpaid, we need to recognise health as our priority. On doctors’ issue we have reached a critical stage, this is now being discussed in higher offices. As a country we need to prioritise the health sector.”

Parirenyatwa also revealed that donors have withdrawn their support to health sector.

“Donors have cut their support. Global Fund is the only one left but they are saying they are not supporting human resource but other programmes.”

Doctors are demanding among other things an upward review of on-call allowance, want the government to honour its word to subsidise purchase of cars and the HSB to urgently implement the agreed vehicle duty-free framework.

The ongoing strike has caused untold suffering to patients in major government hospitals.

Parirenyatwa and Harare Central hospitals have had to suspend a number of services due to the absence of essential medical staff.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has so far not been able to end the myriad problems affecting the public health institutions.

Zimbabwe is relying on foreign imports for its drugs, equipment and hospital consumables and imports over $400 million worth of basic drugs each year.

Due to the worsening shortages of foreign currency, hospitals have been experiencing shortages of oxygen.

The shortage of oxygen comes as doctors have been battling to contain the outbreak of bronchiolitis which has seen a surge in the number of children seeking treatment.

In a statement issued last Friday, the HSB said government through the Health Service Bipartite Negotiation Panel had signed a collective bargaining agreement, meant to effectively bring the strike to an end.

According to details of the collective bargaining agreement published by the HSB, additional benefits have been added to the health workers with effect from April 1, 2018.

It says on-call, night duty and stand/call allowances have been reviewed by 50 percent while post basic allowances for nursing staff who acquire approved additional qualifications up to a maximum of two has been re-introduced.

Government has also introduced a nurse manager’s allowance in recognition of the added responsibility.

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