Zimbabwe: The government has instructed health workers to improve their working conditions and pay in order to reduce brain drain.

Local nurses have urged the government to provide health workers with training as part of efforts to stem the massive brain drain that has seen hundreds of health professionals leave the country for greener pastures.

In an interview with 263Chat, Douglas Chikobvu, spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union (ZPNU), expressed concern about the continued loss of highly experienced and qualified health professionals due to poor working conditions.

 

“This massive exodus has seen most of our health workers tracking to the diaspora in search of a living wage. To begin with, nurses have been sonorously calling and crying in splintered voice for a living wage to no avail from government and this has sparked a new wave of brain drain. Measly wages, dire lack of tools of trade and poor working conditions among other compounding factors have triggered nurses to leave for the diaspora,” said Chikobvu.

Chikobvu pleaded with the government to come up with a financial model that boost health workers’ working conditions.

“The government should come up with a lucrative wage model, fully equip the health institutions with state of art equipment and improve conditions. Fellow nurses who recently retired are wallowing in poverty given the poor retirement packages. This has caused the young, energetic crop of nurses to seek alternative employers in order to light up their professional prospects and future. If the government does not institute a raft of lucrative and attractive measure to curtail brain drain, we foresee a looming health catastrophe,” Chikobvu added.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean Community in South Africa (ZCSA) has blamed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration for paying “slave wages” which the organisation blamed for massive brain drain.

“What is needed is to try to balance the two. On the one hand, we have a Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) protocol that says member States should not recruit medical professionals from other countries where there is a shortage, and on the other hand, we have Zimbabwean health workers who are underpaid and live under poverty, and are looking for greener pastures.

“A domestic worker in South Africa earns more than what a medical professional earns in Zimbabwe. We have a situation where the government of Zimbabwe cannot pay its workers. It is important that the SADC protocol must be reviewed because we need to balance the interests of workers and that of Sadc,” said ZCSA chairperson Ngqabutho Mabhena while addressing the media recently.

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