Govt to train med­i­cal spe­cial­ists

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Kuda Bwititi Chief Re­porter

GOVERN­MENT will in­vest in train­ing health­care spe­cial­ists, and spruce up lo­cal health in­sti­tu­tions to stem for­eign cur­rency losses from out­bound med­i­cal tourism.

Govern­ment sources es­ti­mate that Zim­bab­weans spend more than $400 mil­lion on med­i­cal tourism an­nu­ally, a fig­ure higher than is needed to train lo­cal spe­cial­ists.

The dearth of med­i­cal spe­cial­ists runs deep, with Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa de­cry­ing the fact that Zim­babwe has one di­a­betol­o­gist — who is Health and Child Care Deputy Min­is­ter Dr John Mang­wiro — against the three mil­lion Zim­bab­weans liv­ing with di­a­betes.

In his weekly col­umn in The Sun­day Mail, the Head of State and Govern­ment also said the coun­try had just three heart sur­geons and seven neuro-sur­geons, mostly based in Harare.

This means peo­ple rou­tinely travel abroad — mostly to South Africa, In­dia and China - to get spe­cial­ist care.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa said Zim­babwe would save mil­lions of dol­lars by train­ing its own spe­cial­ists.

“Zim­babwe’s health­care is not com­pet­i­tive, rel­a­tive to sim­i­lar ser­vices in other coun­tries, devel­op­ing or de­vel­oped. But the story goes fur­ther than af­ford­abil­ity. It is also about sparse skills in the coun­try, and about poorly equipped health fa­cil­i­ties.

“Yet what we end up spend­ing on for­eign care more than dou­bles what we need to build th­ese spe­cial­ist skills, and to equip and stock our spe­cialised hos­pi­tals for more ad­vanced in­ter­ven­tions,” he said.

He said it was un­ac­cept­able for Zim­babwe to have zero ca­pac­ity to carry out vi­tal or­gan trans­plants and that there was no na­tional or­gans reg­is­ter.

The high num­ber of GPs in the coun­try, the Pres­i­dent said, was a good foun­da­tion for Zim­babwe to start pro­duc­ing its own spe­cial­ists.

He said the struc­ture of health de­liv­ery should be re­con­fig­ured to the stan­dard where re­fer­ral cen­tres pro­vided spe­cial­ist ser­vices, while smaller cen­tres pro­vided ba­sic treat­ment.

“Our pro­vin­cial and cen­tral hos­pi­tals are need­lessly clogged by cases which in fact should be dealt with at lower lev­els. Our in­abil­ity to en­sure that in­sti­tu­tions at pri­mary level are ad­e­quately staffed and pro­vided with core com­pe­ten­cies, has cre­ated this im­pos­si­ble sit­u­a­tion where pro­vin­cial and cen­tral hos­pi­tals are no longer re­fer­rals for com­pli­cated cases re­quir­ing spe­cialised in­ter­ven­tions only. Poor work­ing fa­cil­i­ties and con­di­tions are to blame for this col­lapse in the na­tional re­fer­ral sys­tem which should serve us well.”

Ab­sence of trauma fa­cil­i­ties along the coun­try’s high­ways had led to un­nec­es­sary loss of lives, he said.

“Il­lus­tra­tively, any se­ri­ous traf­fic ac­ci­dent cases along the Harare-Chirundu High­way will have to be rushed back to Chin­hoyi and Harare!

“This is quite typ­i­cal on all our high­ways. We have lost many lives as a re­sult. We now need to re­visit our whole in­sti­tu­tional health care chain, both by way of spa­tial dis­tri­bu­tion and the de­ploy­ment of key com­pe­ten­cies across th­ese in­sti­tu­tions.”

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