Masvingo City Council Health Department is not spared from the brain drain that has hit the country from the continued exodus of healthcare workers to seek greener pastures abroad.
A half-year budget review released by the local authority recently revealed that the local authority continues to experience a turnover of nursing staff who are seeking greener pastures outside the country.
“We continue to experience a high turnover of experienced nursing staff who are seeking greener pastures beyond the country’s borders,” reads part of the report.
Masvingo City Director of Health and Environmental Services Suzanne Madamombe said the local authority was indeed affected by the brain drain but had since resorted to the employment of locum nurses to avert a possible shortage of staff.
“We have been affected but we have resorted to the employment of locum nurses while we recruit new nurses to fill in the vacancies. We have since advertised for recruitment of 15 nurses and we are targeting those experienced ones who are over 50 especially from the uniformed forces because the younger ones are the ones leaving for the diaspora.
We are also looking at improvement of conditions of services for our health workers,” said Madamombe.
Madamombe said the employment of locum nurses had eased the burden and is looking forward to the commissioning of a maternity home at North West Medical Centre as well as the construction of an infectious diseases hospital in the coming year.
“We have a full establishment using locum nurses so we are good, we have not reduced any services and we are aiming at increasing our primary health care services for we will be commissioning our maternity home at North West Medical Centre hatizi kumirira izvozvi (we are not holding back)
“When you are faced with a hard situation you must manage the situation strategically, next year we are actually commencing the construction of the infectious disease hospital,” said Madamombe.
Statistics of the nurses who left the local authority this year are yet to be established although minutes from council in February revealed that the department received seven resignations, one retirement, and one death in 2022.
The department resolved to re-engage four retired nurses and advertise for the recruitment of four other nurses in February 2023.
The situation is however dire in other parts of the country like Mutare where it is alleged that council clinics are closing during weekends as about 60 percent of the nursing staff have left for the diaspora as well.
Zimbabwe is among the 55 countries with some of the most fragile health systems without enough healthcare workers but is losing health workers to international migration.
The exodus of healthcare workers to wealthier countries accelerated after the COVID-19 pandemic.