President Emmerson Mnangagwa has acknowledged the shortage of equipment at the country’s health institutions and has pledged that his government will prioritise health in the 2023 national budget to equip and modernise hospitals and clinics.
President Mnangagwa said he had learnt during his interaction with a team of doctors who left for Kenya last week to start a training programme on cleft lip and cleft palate surgery that the issue of equipment at the country’s hospitals and clinics needed urgent attention.
“At the end of the day, a doctor is as good as the equipment and machinery available to them, in the discharge of their work, which invariably is delicate and life-saving. The Second Republic is fully aware of this area of great concern and need, and will be making substantial provisions towards meeting this pressing need, starting with this coming budget. This is especially important as we scale up healthcare giving in the direction of greater specialization,” President Mnangagwa wrote in his weekly column, None But Ourselves in a local weekly.
President Mnangagwa said the Second Republic continued to invest in the country’s health sector, as evidenced by the recently opening of a massive warehouse for stocking drugs for the country.
“This facility, built through a Chinese grant, is for National Pharmaceutical Company, (NatPharm). It is a facility which now allows us to stock medicines and other sensitive accessories we need in all our health facilities countrywide
“The coming budget, coupled with support from our international partners, should see us fully stocking the facility, thereby improving availability of medicines and accessories in the country. This is a giant step forward,” he said.
He said more and more rural health facilities were being built across the country through Devolution Funds, adding the programme would continue until every village and community was within reach of a medical facility, for basic health provisioning.
“Alongside this thrust, we continue to invest in district hospitals until the goal of a fully functional hospital for each district is met. I also wish to see more and more of mobile healthcare services reaching remote communities. We have done that in the past, allowing mobile clinics manned by specialist doctors to reach such historically disadvantaged communities for superior care. As in other sectors, no person and no community should be left behind,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said following the opening of the Great Zimbabwe University Medical School, which brought to four the number of medical schools in the country, Zimbabwe was now the second best in the region in terms of medical schools.
“These are at Universities of Zimbabwe (UZ), National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Midlands State University (MSU), and now the Great Zimbabwe University Medical School. In our Southern African region, we now rank second to South Africa, which has 10 such schools of medicine,” he said.
He said the goal was to have as many training facilities for medical staff as would ensure that the doctor-to-patient ratio continued to improve.
“The number of medical practitioners in the country remains unsatisfactorily low. I am told we have 3 777 registered medical practitioners in the country. Of this number, 1 982 are General Medical Officers; 713 are specialists; 250 are dentists, while 627 are interns. We have to boost our medical corps. I am aware that such a goal takes time, and a lot more than just the availability of training facilities. We have to competitively reward our doctors in order to guarantee greater staff retention in our hospitals, and in the country,” he said.
He said quite a huge number of doctors continued to leave the country for greener pastures as they were in demand, especially in the rich West because of Zimbabwe’s superior training facilities.
“The Second Republic has to treat in-country medical staff retention as a foremost national goal. More visible and substantive steps will be taken in the near future to improve the working conditions for our medical staff,” he said.