Government has deployed an additional 500 nurses and 49 junior doctors to five central hospitals that have been designated as Covid-19 centres following a sharp increase in infections.
Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, 1 547 health workers have tested positive and seven have succumbed to the global pandemic.
Health care workers have been tirelessly working on the frontline exposing themselves to the deadly virus which has killed over 500 Zimbabweans.
Globally, deaths are approaching 2 million.
In an update on prevailing health workforce initiatives in light of the second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic, the Health Services Board said 500 nurses and 49 junior doctors have been deployed to institutions that include United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital.
All health workers in the public health sector, including nurses, continue to receive their monthly Covid-19 risk allowances in line with the low, medium and high-risk categories. The levels of payment are $1 500, $2 250 and $3 750, respectively.
In addition to the risk allowances, health workers continue to receive the US$75 Covid-19 allowance for all civil servants which is paid in local currency at the prevailing rate.
All health workers assigned to continuously work in the RedZone treatment wards are entitled to a monthly RedZone allowance of $6 000.
This outstanding allowance will start being paid together with the January 2021 salary, back paid to when it was introduced.
In April 2020, the Government introduced a Covid-19 related insurance scheme, for which eligible health workers are entitled to paid sick leave extended from 90 days to 6 months on full pay.
All health workers who test positive for Covid-19 will receive a once-off payment of US$1 650 for Grade E5 and below and US$1 000 for F Grades, paid in local currency at the prevailing rate.
The infected are also entitled to short falls on medical aid paid by Government.
Government institutions also provide the necessary medicines, free of charge, for staff on treatment for Covid-19.
In the event that a health worker dies of Covid-19, beneficiaries will receive the once off payment of either the US$650 or USD $1 000 equivalent in local currency, depending on the grade of the worker and all other funeral benefits that already existed for civil servants.
In a statement yesterday, Health Services Board (HSB) executive chairperson Dr Paulinus Sikhosana said the deployments are meant to ease pressure on public health care institutions.
“The Health Service Board and Ministry of Health and Child Care have put in place a number of initiatives which include the deployment of 49 junior medical doctors to five central hospitals.
“With Treasury authority, the Health Services Board is employing an additional 500 nurses,” said Dr Sikhosana.
“The available 200 nurses have already been deployed as follows — 80 to Parirenyatwa (30 of whom will support Wilkins Infectious Hospital), 70 to United Bulawayo Hospitals (20 to support Thorngrove Infectious Disease Hospital) and 50 to Matabeleland South (support surge from border crossings),” he said.
The outstanding 300 will be deployed once information on those that passed their examinations and registration by the Nursing Council is available.
“This is in addition to the allocation of additional health workers to these institutions during the first wave of the epidemic whereby eight medical doctors, 54 nurses, 24 nurse aides and 24 general hands were allocated to Parirenyatwa Hospital. During the first wave, UBH was allocated seven medical doctors, 28 nurses, 12 nurse aides and 12 general hands,” he said.
Dr Sikhosana said Government is sparing no effort in encouraging local manufacturers to ramp up the production of personal protective equipment (PPE). This comes at a time when the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe has granted the Health Ministry authority to shorten the bidding time for the procurement of medical oxygen from 20 days to two days.
“We note with great concern that out of close to 50 000 members of the health service, 1 547 health workers are reported to have tested positive for infection by Covid-19, and that seven are reported to have succumbed to the infection.
The Board does not take this lightly and puts every effort to ensure that members are appropriately trained in and practice Infection Prevention and Control Procedures, are provided with adequate and appropriate PPE and receive appropriate counselling and support services,” he said.
The HSB is processing payments of the once-off risk allowances for health workers that have tested positive for Covid-19, as well as the other related benefits the workers are entitled to, subject to funding being made available by Treasury.
Contacted for comment, UBH acting chief executive officer Dr Narcisius Dzvanga said the development was welcome as it would improve the nurse-to-patient ratio. @thamamoe