ZIMBABWE FAILING TO HALT HEALTHCARE 'BRAIN DRAIN'

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The fallout from Zimbabwe's recent Health Budget continues, with industry observers claiming that the government is doing little to address the migration of skilled health personnel. Health was allocated ZWD5.2trn (US$688.58mn) in 2006, roughly 12% of the total budget.

However, Zimbabwe's Health Services Board (HSB) -- which is tasked with improving salaries and working conditions for health personnel -- has only received funding of ZWD2bn (US$25,140) out of a requested figure of ZWB20bn (US$377,068). Market sources claim that the failure of the government to fund the agency adequately will accelerate the flight of medical workers, who are leaving the country in record numbers in search of better pay and working conditions abroad.

The problem has been exacerbated by rampant inflation, which has further eroded salaries. Public sector workers are threatening strikes in the new year. Some legislators are calling for a salary adjustment of at least 500% this year in order to offset economic hardship. However, Zimbabwe's already chronically under-funded government has called for all ministries to maintain strict budgetary targets.