By Staff Reporter
A HUGE exodus of health professionals amid the Covid-19 pandemic is hitting Zimbabawe hard with 2 246 nurses and doctors resigning to take jobs in the US, UK, Australia and neighbouring states.
According to the government’s Health Service Board (HSB), the figures are more than double the number of doctors, nurses and pharmacists who left last year, and three times the number that left in 2019.
In 2019 – a total of 767 health professionals left the country while the figure was 756 in 2018.
HSB executive chairperson Paulinus Sikosana said the health sector remains dynamic and needs tailor-made solutions to counter the impact of such challenges.
“Unlike the preceding years, 2021 was a year that the board did not experience any collective job actions and was therefore able to focus on strengthening the quality service delivery,” he said.
“By June 2021, the health Service had lost more than twice the number of nurses that left the service in the whole of 2020.”
Health officials say the exodus has affected an already fragile health system, which suffers from a lack of medical equipment and medicines.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a minimum of 23 doctors per 10,000 people, which Zimbabwe is far from meeting. When the last survey was done in 2015, there was an average of just 1.6 doctors per 10,000 people.
Despite repeated government promises to improve wages they remain low.
An average worker in the public sector takes homes less than $200 a month, while in the UK – which relaxed visa restrictions for health workers in 2020 – they can earn 10 times as much.