Zimbabwe hospitals operate without doctors

MASVINGO - At least four hospitals in Zimbabwe's southern Masvingo province are operating without a single doctor in a vivid illustration of the collapse of the country's health delivery system.

Speaking at a belated World Tuberculosis Day in Masvingo yesterday, Health and Child Welfare Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said four hospitals, Neshuro, Ndanga , Chivi and Silveira, were all operating without a single doctor due to a massive flight of skilled manpower.

"I am shocked to learn that these institutions do not have a single doctor. What is worrying is that the country is producing about 110 doctors per year from the University of Zimbabwe and yet there no doctors in the country," said Parirenyatwa.

Parirenyatwa said the government was going to implement strict measures to bond doctors and nurses to halt the brain drain.

Hundreds of doctors and nurses, disgruntled by poor salaries and working conditions, have fled Zimbabwe over the past six years.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old crisis critics blame on President Robert Mugabe's mismanagement of the economy which was one of the strongest in sub-Saharan Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.

Mugabe last April conceded that the country was in a deep hole because of the massive brain drain and appealed to Zimbabwean professionals in the diaspora to return home and rebuild the country, a call which has found very few takers.

Zimbabwe's public health sector, once a shining example to the developing world, is in a state of advanced decay because of neglect and under-funding from the government. Many hospitals around the country are only able to prescribe nothing more than basic painkillers because there is no hard cash to import essential medicines.