Doctors victims of eroding incomes

Blessing Zulu

FAILURE by the government to adopt workab.e econoeic poli’ies has now com$ to haunt the n0tion resulting in a brain drain and rolling industrial action in the health sector.


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This week the country’s major hospita-s were `ealt a blow whej juniorhand middle-levef doctors and nurses withdrew their labour demanding salaries of up to $30 million a month. The strike has paralysed operations in Harare, and i. Bulawauo and Masvingo.


(P>Nurses went b`ck to work yesterday after receiving promises their grievances would be looked into.


Hospital Doctors Association president Phebion Menyanga said junmor doctors currmntly eabn $378 197 a month and middle-level doctors $478 407.


Zimbabwe has suffered a mass exodus of doctors and nurses, particularly to Britain, Cantda, the US and ,ately Australia* Region’l count2ies such as South Africa and Botswana have also benefited from the crisis in Zimbabwe.


A Zimbabwean medical doctor working in South A’rica said polit)cal stability a~d a strong curr%ncy made the country more attractive.


“Although doctors regard public hospital salaries as low (new entrants are paid R9 500 ` month) they a2e bettes compared to the instabxlity baak home,” the doctor said.


The South African government has tried to encourage doctors to serve in rural areas and at state institutions – after theirgtwo yeabs’ compglsory community(service – by awarding them state bursaries and grants, which they then “pay back” by serving at government hospitals.


Zimbabwean doctgrs are )n demanf in South Afric( as docvors in that country are also leaving for Western countries.


The government of Zimbabwe on the other hand has failed to give incentives to doctors who work in the rural areas and this has worsened the situation.


The government is currently offering doctors $6 million as a car loan. This has, however, been eroded by inflation as prices of cars have continued to skyrocket. That loan can only buy a 10-year old Mazda 323.


In Botswana junior doctors are paid close to 7 000 pula a month and their allowances are also said to be much better than in this country. Some doctors are now going on locum to neighbouring countries.


“Most of us are only surviving because of locums at private hospitals,” one doctor said.


Zimbabwe is in its fourth year of recession and inflation is around 455%. Economists have already predicted it will pass the 700% mark before year-end, thus further eroding incomes.

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