MINISTER of Health Sylvia Masebo has disclosed that almost all the provinces have lesser numbers of health workers on the ground compared to what’s in the records at her Ministry.

And Masebo has cautioned applicants against applying twice, saying they risk being disqualified.

Rendering a ministerial statement in Parliament, Friday, Masebo said she was disappointed after discovering that the figures she was given for health workers in all the provinces were different from what was in the records at the ministry.

“On Monday this week as I prepared myself to ensure that we do justice to this process and as I engaged the district directors countrywide, I took my document and I said, according to my document which I have here at the ministry, according to my team, currently these are the numbers of workers that we have. I started reading out each province, I said Central Province your approved structure is 13,564 but currently, according to my information at the ministry, you are standing at 5,275. Meaning you are 35 percent. I went on and said Western Province, for example, Eastern Province you had 12,361 but currently you only have 5,143,” she said.

“Madam Speaker, to my disappointment as Minister, all the provinces without exception the figures they gave me were different from what we had at the ministry. This worried me because I then realized that just as well we did not advertise at that time. Clearly, I could see that in the provinces and districts, in our hospitals, facilities, we may be saying Western Province has 4,294 workers on the ground and yet that is not the correct position. Almost all these provinces had less numbers of workers on the ground in their provinces than what the Ministry of Health had. For example, in the case of Eastern Province, I said we have 5,143 workers working as health workers. The provincial health director objected and said that figure is not correct. What we have on our payroll is 5,003.”

And Masebo cautioned applicants against applying twice as they risk being disqualified.

“The advert you have seen in today’s (Friday’s edition of the) Daily Mail, and it was approved by the Cabinet, do not make two applications; one in Lusaka, one in Shang’ombo because you will be disqualified. Applicants must choose where they want to work from, but remember we are implementing the decentralization policy and applicants are encouraged to apply only from where they reside unless the position you are looking for is not in your district but in Copperbelt or Mansa or is in Lusaka,” she said.

“Your chances of employment will be higher if you apply as a local resident. So do not be misled by people. Get my statement, that is what it shall be. This is what the government desires, not to scatter families, not to waste time but to get the people that will be employed, get straight into the job come 1st May.”

Masebo said an additional 76 health workers had been included on the 11,200 that was initially supposed to be employed.

“Madam Speaker, one of the issues that arose which is a matter for correction now is that we shall not employ 11, 200 health workers but we shall now employ 11, 276 health workers. The other point to note which is important for members of the public is that in the last plan of things, the applications were supposed to be handed over through ZAMPOST. This also has changed, applications shall now all be addressed to the respective district health directors countrywide. So if you live in Chongwe, don’t apply to your MP, Minister of Health, or to the PS Ministry of Health, or to the director Ministry of Health. You apply directly to Chongwe’s director of health. This means all applications must now go directly to the district health director of the various district councils in the whole country,” she said.

“On the issues of numbers that have changed, Madam Speaker, there will be some explanation that earlier on, some categories of the health sector in particular specialized doctors, were not considered in the aggregation of various categories and so we had to ensure that these too were taken on board. I must mention that the number 11, 276 may in the process reduce back to 11, 200 or may if we are lucky increase beyond 11, 200.”

Masebo said the recruitment programme would continue running for the next three years.

“The programme of recruitment by the UPND new dawn administration is not a one-year programme but it is a programme that will run for the next three years. It is hoped that in the next three years it will get better because 11, 200 is not sufficient as I did allude in my last statement to cover all the numbers of health workers that are needed countrywide. Next year again depending on how our economy will fare, the Ministry of Finance may give us a greater number or a similar number or below, it will depend on the economy but the fact remains this is a programme which will take three years,” said Masebo.