ALLIANCE for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Charles Milupi says government decision to recruit 400 doctors and 3000 paramedics is welcome, though insufficient to cushion staff deficit, but wonders how government will cover salaries with a depleted treasury.
He questioned how government would pay the health workers when they had already made it clear that the treasury was strained.
Health Minister Dr Chilufya, Wednesday, said President Edgar Lungu had directed the recruitment of 400 medical doctors and 3000 paramedics.
Speaking in an interview Milupi questioned what funds would be used to pay the workers as the PF government had clearly stated that treasury was strained.
“When you say we are going to employ so many people it could have been helpful to say where we are going to get the money from; are they increasing taxes? Where are they going to get the money? We are not saying don’t employ but we are saying that they are not even enough. To get medical personnel is the right step but equipping them is a challenge because you have depleted the reserves through your corruption. We know the treasury is stressed and we know that it is stressed because of the various mismanagement of the economy. What are we going to pay them with. I am aware that this month the salaries of nurses where delayed; so, this government is having difficulties to even pay the current staff. Are we going to make sure that not only are these people paid on time but paid adequately and compensated for the risk that they are doing in the fight against Coronavirus?” asked Milupi.
He said the intention to employ more medical staff was a good move but the number of workers being recruited was minimal to cushion the already low staff in the sector especially during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We know that we are in a very stressed economy; we are very highly indebted even the 2020 budget we are talking about has tremendous difficulties. The way the economy has been run in 2020 the treasury will have difficulties. We know that this treasury has no money. This is a very difficult situation. Any intervention in the health sector is welcome; the employing of 400 doctors and 3000 paramedicals you would say it is very good and I don’t know if that is even enough.,” Milupi said
“When the numbers begin to sow we don’t know that the doctors would manage. We have over 100 districts so if you are employing 400 it means that per district, if you are going to share equally, for example, a district we get four doctors and 30 health personal that is in adequate. This is the price that we are paying for having a government that has neglected the social sector; no effort whatsoever to improve our health facilities.”
He said government would be putting the recruited workers at risk if they do not equip hospitals with the needed materials to fight COVID-19.
“The health facilities in Zambia are so bad. You only need to go UTH or any hospital or any clinic to see how bad our facilities are. So, even if you employ those doctors on an average four per district there still arises the question of what facilities are they going to use. If you speak to any hospital now even gloves for our nurses; masks they don’t have. So we are even putting them at risk of contracting the virus! So, even the personal protective equipment is not even there.So we are not seeing a wholesome address of the problem,” he said.
“It may make good reading that we are employing 400 doctors and 3000 paramedics but what are they coming to do? How are we going to equip them? Are we sending them also to their death? That is what we will be doing because if we employ these people and we don’t have equipment to use we are sending them so that they can die!”