Exodus of medical professionals hits council clinics

Bulawayo has a shortage of medical practitioners, with most of the city council clinics operating with a skeletal staff due to the exodus of medical professionals, Director of Health Services, Dr Edwin Sibanda has stated.

Dr Sibanda was speaking during online discussion hosted by CITE and IAM4BYO Fighting Covid-19, Monday, themed, “The State of Health Institutions in Bulawayo:A Provincial Perspective.” 

Dr Sibanda said although the government assisted by availing a number of medical personnel, they were all channeled to Covid-19 centres leaving local clinics with skeletal staff.

He lamented that since January the council health staff has been tendering in resignation letters at alarming rates. 

“We have about 19 clinics dotted around the city of Bulawayo and they are running with almost forty-five to fifty-five staffing levels. The city has been struggling with constant tendering in of resignation letters, since January we have been receiving not less than four resignations a month,” said Dr Sibanda. 

“We did receive human resources through Mpilo Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals and they were deployed specifically to deal with Covid-19 pandemic. They have since been manning our isolation center at Elangeni and the isolation ward at Thorngrove. In terms of admission levels we are fine, but the greatest constraint is the fact that our clinics do not have enough staff.”

Dr Welcome Mlilo, Acting Provincial Medical Director for Bulawayo concurred that despite having medical personnel being brought into the province, there is still a challenge in having enough human resources as most of them keep going out of the country in search of greener pastures.

“The shortage of health facilities is a trend right across the country not only limited to Bulawayo.we have seen an alarming number of resignations. The government has however been relooking at the establishment of the health facilities with the intention of availing more resources in order to fight the pandemic more effectively,” said Dr Mlilo.

“Recently the health services board opened up a number of posts and actually created a few more wrestling in more health cadres being employed within the ministry. Bulawayo province also benefited from this development. But however the challenge of flight of skills within the health institution still remains.”

In terms of lessons learnt over the recent experience with Covid-19 cases, Dr Absolom Dube, Acting chief executive officer at Ekusileni Medical Centre noted that under the circumstances, the most effective way of curbing the spread of the virus is through initiating strict lockdown.

“We do understand that lockdown cripples many sectors of the economy- informal business sector, school calendars, border closures among others but at the end of the day we realise that this is the most effective way of dealing with the pandemic,” said Dr Dube said.

“What we could urge the government to do, ahead of reopening borders and schools, is to have very strict measures to closely monitor activities at these areas so that if we suffer a third wave, we are not found wanting.”

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