By Mary Taruvinga
GOVERNMENT has revealed plans to build houses for hospital staff at all central hospitals in the country with construction on the first two blocks of flats set to begin in Harare March next year.
Addressing the media Monday, Health Minister Obadiah Moyo said this was being done to ease economic hardships being experienced by its health staff.
Moyo said government is worried with the dire conditions of its health staff and was committed to improving their living standards.
The top government official said this during a tour at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare Monday afternoon.
“Accommodation is one of the key issues we want to address to ensure the welfare for doctors is covered,” he said.
“We want them to stay close to their working space so that they will cut transport costs although we will also provide transport for them.”
Social Amenities Minister, Daniel Garwe, who was part of the Monday tour, said the ground to build the houses has been identified and work will begin soon.
“We are responding to constitutional provisions, to avail affordable institutional accommodation to junior doctors and nurses.
“If we motivate the construction companies, we will be able to hand over two blocks of flats in Harare-Marimba by March next year,” Garwe said.
“We will also built houses throughout the country and doctors and nurses will be given priority.”
The government pledge comes at a time the country’s health sector has seen the longest strike action by hundreds of doctors who are demanding a review of their wages.
Junior doctors embarked on a crippling strike action some three months ago demanding US dollar wages or the payment of such salaries in Zimbabwean dollars pegged at prevailing interbank exchange rates.
The doctors are also demanding to be given tools of their trade to enable them to perform their duties free of any hustles.
Government maintains it does not have the necessary resources to meet the demands but has pledged some incentives to help cushion its health staff against current economic hardships.
Moyo said government is also working on addressing the doctors; grievances.
“We are also looking at improving the issue of medicine availability and we are now going to tender. I am grateful that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has managed to identify assistance for us.
“Natpharm has been seized with this issue and soon we will be receiving medicines…in fact we have already started receiving the medicines,” Moyo said.
The cabinet minister also said doctors will now be involved in procurement of medicine and hospital equipment.
“We need more equipment and we want end users to pick what they want to use; not for people in offices to pick up for them. We want to see comfort in them,” Moyo said.