Doctors group bemoan paltry US$400 monthly salary

By Own Correspondent


THE Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) has bemoaned measly salaries and under-equipped hospitals which are complicating an already poor working environment.

The ZHDA secretary general, Dr. Norman Matara decried perpetual problems bedevilling the health sector which have almost become an acceptable way of life.

“We have been facing challenges in the health sector for over two decades; these have now become perennial problems.

“Health workers are leaving the country to go to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, but also to the UK, because of the poverty salaries that they are being given—a medical doctor is earning roughly around US$400 a month,” he said.

He said one of the country’s biggest hospitals has only one maternal operating theatre, which was built before 1980 with many citizens dying from things that are preventable.

This is despite the fact that Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Abuja Declaration, where it committed to allocate 15% of our budget towards healthcare.

“However, we have not stuck to this commitment. The country’s central hospitals need about US$ 3 million each a year to function without shortages. However, in reality, they are getting only about 10 percent of the amount that is needed.

“The other issue is that the national currency is losing value almost on a daily basis, so even when government does allocate money in the national budget, by the time it reaches hospitals, its value is a fifth or a tenth of what was allocated in the budget just 4- 5 percent months ago,” he added.

However, for 2023, only 11 percent of the national budget has been allocated to the health and child care ministry.

Low pay and difficult working conditions in the sector have also prompted repeated protests and strikes by health workers, as wage increases as high as even 100 percent have failed to keep up with triple-digit inflation, which stood at 229.8 percent in January. 

The rising cost of living and a local currency that has plunged in value have not only had a devastating impact on the value of real wages, but also on people’s access to healthcare—in a country where, according to Matara, only 8 percent of the population has health insurance, leaving the majority of people having to pay out-of-pocket to receive care.

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