Zimbabwe has 3 500 registered doctors only, Zima

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

POOR working conditions and low salaries have pushed many qualified and experienced doctors to seek greener pastures outside the country, Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) said.

Zima secretary general Sacrifice Chirisa said local doctors are also the lowest paid in the region and compounding the situation is a lack of resources in public institutions which has had a negative effect on the overall health system in the country.

Chirisa told that the dire situation has resulting in the shortchanging of patients with some forced to attend to 80 patients a day.

“We have about 3 500 registered doctors in the country versus a population of 15 million, of those about a 1000 are specialists in various areas which is then impossible to offer the required standards,” Chirisa said.

“Consultation time is three minutes, one minute for greeting one minute for diagnosis another minute for telling you when to come back. We know patients have been complaining that they hardly have time with doctors because of time.

“This is unfair, unethical and you are under cutting the patients, a patient must not wait for up to three hours without being attended to that is unacceptable.”

The Zima secretary general added that doctor patient ratio in Zimbabwe is low because the government has failed to retain the skills.

“We have even failed to attract skills back home and the few skills that we have need to be nurtured and cared for or else the ratio will become worse,” he said.

“And because we are the lowest in the region and we have failed to retain the professionals and they continue to leave.”

In recent months, senior and junior doctors have been on job action demanding better working conditions, upward review of their salaries, availability of medicines and basic medical equipment such as gloves among other demands.