Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
THE Government has set in motion the process of employing 250 junior doctors who have completed internship, in a move that is expected to appease health professions who last week went on strike.
Medical practitioners went on strike last week demanding that Government employs trained junior doctors, failure of which it should grant them their open practice certificates to seek employment elsewhere.
The Government recently announced that it was no longer guaranteeing General Medical Officers posts because the current establishment was now full.
In an interview on Friday, Health Service Board (HSB) public relations executive Mr Nyasha Maravanyika said the Ministry of Health and Child Care had already sent a distribution list of junior doctors to all provinces.
On the 2 000 nurses that Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said would also be recruited, Mr Maravanyika said the board was still waiting for “Treasury concurrence” to start recruitment. He said the recruitment of nurses was definite.
“The Permanent Secretary (Dr Gerald Gwinji) has already sent distribution lists to all provinces. What is left is for the junior doctors to go to their preferred areas after internship. The HSB had requested these posts to solve this issue that has arisen,” he said.
Mr Maravanyika added, “As for the 2 000 nurses that the minister announced, the matter is still work in progress. We are waiting for documentation from Treasury”.
He was not in a position to state when the board expects to get concurrence from Treasury to start recruiting the health workers. The HSB spokesperson said the board will sit down to discuss how the recruitment of nurses would go about, but priority was likely to be given to unemployed nurses who graduated first.
“That is something we will have to sit down and look at. However, the normal process is that we will start with those who graduated first. I cannot say when exactly we expect to start filling those posts, but as soon as we get the necessary documentation we will start the process,” he said.
Mr Maravanyika said the recruitment of an additional 250 doctors and 2 000 nurses would add value to the country’s healthcare system which has been dogged by staff shortages.
“As you know our establishment has not been revised since the early 1980s. The coming in of additional staff will certainly go a long way in improving health delivery in the country,” he said.
Announcing the opening of 2 250 vacancies for health workers, Dr Parirenyatwa said his ministry was now looking at the provision of posts for other professionals such as pharmacists and laboratory scientists.
The strike by junior doctors, has crippled operations at most central hospitals around the country as patients are being turned away. Hospitals have since roped in professionals from the uniformed forces to ease the situation. The doctors are demanding issuance of their practicing certificates upon completion of a two-year internship and a review of on-call allowance up to $720 for the lowest paid doctor.
After completion of their studies, doctors are required to undergo internship before they are given a temporary certificate to practice in a Government institution for another year. The doctors only get an open practicing certificate after completing the additional one year as a Government medical officer (GMO).
There are close to 4 000 trained nurses who are not employed following the freezing of posts for health workers by Government in 2012. The HSB has been on record calling on Government to lift the freeze on nursing vacancies. Zimbabwe’s nurses establishment was last reviewed in 1983.