24 JUNE 2022 PRESS STATEMENT
Call for improved working conditions and support for health workers in Zimbabwe
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), a non-partisan national network of women’s rights organisations and activists raises concern over persistent reports from our networks and the media of poor working conditions and neglected needs of healthcare workers by the government. This includes provision of low wages and limited to complete unavailability of medical equipment to use (PPE) and medical drugs which results in their incapacitation and inability to provide care. This development is disheartening given the fact that from time immemorial, health workers in Zimbabwe have been fighting for better working conditions through various engagements with the government. However, due to inaction, this has driven the sector into striking and ultimately, thousands migrating in search for greener pastures overseas. In fact, according to the Zimbabwe’s Health Services Board, as of February 2022, over 2,200 nurses and doctors have left the country since the beginning of the year 2021, thus leaving the public health systems crippled. This situation has left a void within the health profession in Zimbabwe in addition to the fact that low remuneration and poor working environments are retrogressive to the vision stated in Sustainable Development Goal 3 of Good Health and Well Being as well as section 76 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Being at the frontline of providing critical health care services, it is prudent for the government of Zimbabwe to invest in the healthcare sector by providing all essential equipment and better working conditions that will give dignity back to the health profession. Insufficient funding for healthcare systems causes them to buckle under the pressure of growing populations as well managing infections and pandemics. This is against the background that the Zimbabwe 2022 national budget, despite coming against a background of the ravaging effects of COVID-19, failed to meet the Abuja Declaration of allocating 15% of the total budget to health. Instead, the health sector allocation stood at 12.7% of the total ZWL$927.3 billion which is expected to be expended during the year 2022. Unfortunately, women and girls thus find themselves trapped at the centre of that chaos as deteriorating health systems make it more difficult for women and girls to receive timely treatment and healthcare services regardless of the fact that section 76 of the Constitution gives them the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health. It is thus important for the government to take heed of the working conditions that healthcare professionals are subjected to and further honour their pledges to improve their working conditions.
We therefore call upon the Government as well as the Ministry of Health and Child Care to: