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Zimbabwean doctors on strike again

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Zimbabwean doctors at public hospitals went on strike on Monday for the second time this year to demand better pay and conditions, a union official said.

The work boycott comes as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government struggles with a deteriorating economy.

The country is short of U.S. dollars, the currency it adopted in 2009, causing price spikes and shortages of basic goods, medicines and fuel.

Mathabisi Bebhe, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association which represents more than 1,000 members, said most junior doctors at the five major hospitals had downed tools to protest over pay, allowances and drugs’ shortages.

More than half of public sector doctors joined the indefinite strike, he said.

With hospitals already short of drugs and reliant on patients to buy them, local pharmacies are no longer accepting insurance policies for purchases, instead demanding U.S. dollars in cash. When using bank cards, prices are at least three times higher.

“We are understaffed and underpaid and there are no medications in the hospitals,” Bebhe said.

“We are really hopeful that the government will intervene as early as possible. The duration of the industrial action depends on when the government gives a proper practical solution.”

Health Minister Obadiah Moyo could not be reached for comment. The government has previously said doctors should present their grievances while at work and has relied on military doctors to help at state hospitals during strikes

At United Bulawayo Hospitals in the city of Bulawayo, senior doctors were only tending to emergency cases after closing the outpatient department, according to a notice to staff.

In March, the doctors went on strike and won an increase in pay and allowances, ending the first big labor dispute Mnangagwa faced since taking power.

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But doctors were still struggling to survive, Bebhe said, after prices of basic goods rose by at least 300 percent since October. Annual inflation was 20.85 percent that month, the first time it has hit double digits in a decade.

The doctors, who earn a basic monthly salary of about $385 before allowances, are also pressing the government to raise on-call allowances by 25 percent to $10 an hour paid in cash. (NAN)

Health

AMNH Excellence in Health Journalism Awards 2019 finalists unveiled.

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Nairobi, 14 February 2019 – Finalists in the Africa Media Network on Health AMNH Excellence in Health Journalism Awards 2019 were announced today, underscoring excellence in health journalism in Africa.

The winners will be announced at a gala dinner at the Africa Health Agenda International Conference “Africa Health 2019” in Kigali Rwanda on March 6, 2019.

The AMNH Excellence in Health Journalism Awards shortlist consists of 12 finalists in four different categories including Radio, TV, Print and Online.

Prof Joachim Osur, Director of Regional Programmes at Amref Health Africa said the finalists were arrived at after a five-bench jury sorted through over 200 entries to identify the cream of the crop.

“The jury line-up comprised of some of the most renowned media personalities and media training institutions across Africa.These extraordinary finalists are all worthy of recognition for their tireless efforts in shaping health journalism towards the realisation of universal health coverage in Africa through media advocacy – quality and none sensational reporting. They are essentially the best of the best,” he said

The AMNH Excellence in Health Journalism Awards showcases the top journalists from Zambia, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, who have demonstrated outstanding merit in health journalism in Africa.

Below is the full list of the finalists of the AMNH Excellence in Health Journalism Awards 2019:

Radio

Arthur Shikopo, Zambezi FM(Zambia)

Ruth Keiya, Radio Rahma (Kenya)

MacDonald Gondwe, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (Malawi)

Online

Flavia Nasaka, the Independent Publications Limited (Uganda)

Samuel Okiror, The Guardian (Uganda)

Nancy Agutu, Radio Africa Group (Kenya)

READ: We need to do more collectively for Africa at the Africa Business Health Forum – Halima Dangote

Print

Kenneth Simbaya, IPP Media/The Guardian (Tanzania)

Eunice Kilonzo, Nation Media Goup (Kenya)

Diana Kendi, Freelancer (Kenya)

TV

Saida Swale, Royal Media services (Kenya)

Mercy Kandie, BBC (Kenya)

Eunice Omollo, Nation Media Group (Kenya)

*************

About Africa Media Network on Health (AMNH)

AMNH is a team of highly acclaimed journalists and editors from Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda reporting on health systems strengthening at their respective countries and at the regional level including AU, the East, Central and Southern African (ECSA), East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC). The Network aims to promote citizen understanding and appreciation of health issues in Africa and beyond by improving the quality, accuracy, and intensity of media reporting on health issues.

The network seeks to achieve its goal of increasing the coverage of health issues in the media in Africa, enhance interest of media in health matters and enhance the capacity of African journalists to report on health through workshops, mentorship, networking, information sharing, and institutional development.

Press contact: +254 724 278 948
Hezron Owuor; [email protected]

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Turkana County: Averting Health Worker Strikes through Round Table Forums

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Participants of a Roundtable meeting between the Turkana County Department of Health Leadership and Health Worker union officials at Cradle Hotel, Lodwar

With health service delivery crippled in a number of counties across the country as a result of the ongoing nurses’ strike, Amref Health Africa in Kenya is leading the way in bringing the striking nurses and county health leadership to the negotiation table.

Building on the belief that harmonious labour relations within the health sector are critical in ensuring stable health systems, Amref through the USAID funded Afya Timiza project facilitated the establishment of a round table forum to facilitate dialogue meetings between the Turkana County Department of Health and health worker unions.

In the past, Turkana County has been affected by long periods of industrial unrest from health workers, adversely affecting service delivery.

The roundtable forum was convened by the Turkana County Department of Health and attended by all the leaders of the health worker unions in the County. The USAID funded Afya Timiza project facilitated the dialogue process by providing technical support for labour relations to the county health department and logistical support to both parties. This provided an opportunity for the county and health worker union leaders to have an open meeting of equals to discuss issues raised by union leaders, examine responses by the county health leadership and develop a formula to keep the health workers at work.

READ We need to do more collectively for Africa at the Africa Business Health Forum – Halima Dangote

Prior to this meeting, there had been no attempted dialogue and the parties were unwilling to engage. The Afya Timiza facilitated process included meetings with the county to get commitment to be the convener of the roundtable dialogue sessions; mapping and reaching out to all health worker union leaders; identifying issues affecting the unions and the county department of health; consensus building on the agenda for the meeting; convening the meeting at a neutral venue; deliberations and agreeing on resolutions, and the development of a working formula between the two parties.

As an output of the discussions, the county health leadership committed to convene quarterly roundtable forums to provide employer-employee updates and progress. Most importantly, it was agreed that Turkana county health workers will not go on strike.

Amref Health Africa believes that health service delivery begins with frontline health workers, and therefore their engagement and empowerment is of utmost importance. Governments (national and county, workers unions, professional associations and civil society have a joint responsibility to improve and secure the working conditions of health workers while empowering them in the decision making process.

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Dangote, Imouhkuede launch Africa Business Coalition for Health

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The forum is expected to unify Africa’s key decision makers in exploring opportunities for catalysing growth in the continent’s economy, through business partnerships to invest in the health sector

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, February 13, 2019/ — An ambitious platform designed to bring together business leaders in Africa to collaborate with heads of government and other stakeholders to tackle basic health challenges in Africa has been launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with assurances from government to collaborate for a healthier Africans.

The platform, African Business Coalition for Health (ABC Health) was launched with commitments by all partners and stakeholders to put efforts together to improve basic health care services in the continent during the inaugural Africa Business: Health Forum 2019, which witnessed the launch of the official logo of the ABC Health.

The ABC Health is a joint initiative of Aliko Dangote Foundation; GBCHealth, and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), with the objective of driving business leadership, strengthening partnerships, and facilitating investments to change the face of healthcare in Africa.

Taking place on the margins of the 32nd African Union Summit Heads of Governments and Business Community leaders across Africa, the forum  examined opportunities to accelerate economic development and growth of the continent through a healthcare reform agenda that focuses on the wellbeing of employees for a more active and productive workforce.

The forum is expected to unify Africa’s key decision makers in exploring opportunities for catalysing growth in the continent’s economy, through business partnerships to invest in the health sector.

In his opening remarks, the Chairman of Aliko Dangote Foundation, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who was represented by the Foundation’s Executive Director, Halima Aliko-Dangote said Africa Business Health Forum would identify issues and solutions to Africa’s health challenges with a view to mobilizing the will to confront it headlong.

He said it is a well-known fact that there is a vital relationship between health and economic growth and development in Africa as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more. Access to essential health services is an important aspect of development.

Dangote stated that “Governments from both developed and developing countries are increasingly looking at public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a way to expand access to higher-quality health services by leveraging capital, managerial capacity, and know-how from the private sector.”

According to him, “Africa’s healthcare systems demand significant investments to meet the needs of their growing populations, changing patterns of diseases and the internationally-agreed development goals.

He said as a businessman, and through Aliko Dangote foundation, he is committed to working with governments and key stakeholders for the development of impactful health initiatives in Africa in the belief that private sector leaders have a strong role to play.

Back in his home country, Dangote informed his audience that in keeping with his passion to see a healthier African people and better continent he has proposed and charged business leaders to commit at least one percent of their profit after tax to support the health sector.

In his own remark, the Co-Chair of the GBCHealth, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, said while Africa has made significant progress in the funding of healthcare, “we are still very far from where we need to be to achieve SDG Goal 3,”

He lamented that the healthcare in Africa is constrained by scarce public funding and limited donor support, and that the out of pocket expenditure accounts for 36% of Africa’s total healthcare spend pointing out that given the income levels in Africa, it is no surprise that healthcare spend in Africa is grossly inadequate to meet Africa’s needs leading to a financing gap of N66bn per annum.

Mr Imhokuede said it was clear that African government alone cannot solve this challenge, which is further exacerbated by our growing population and Africa’s changing disease portfolio. Therefore there is no alternative but to turn to the private sector to complement government funding.

Said he “Our continent accounts for less than 2% of global health even though our very fertile people account for 16% of global population and carry 26% of the global disease burden. By 2050 Africans will account for more than 50% of global population growth much of that coming from my country Nigeria, a great opportunity and at the same time a ticking time bomb should we fail our health systems quickly.

“That is why we have gathered here in Addis Ababa today to see how together we can fix health in Africa. The private sector and the public sector working together as partners have the potential to change Africa’s healthcare from doom and gloom to progress and results. Africa’s private sector has great capacity to be relevant partners.

“The private sector must be encouraged to optimize and step up its involvement and contribution to health funding in Africa. We have seen what global private sector players accomplished in the fight against the AIDS epidemic through powerful coalitions such as GBCHealth. This is an indication of the power of consolidated effort which Africa’s growing private sector can bring to solving our health challenges.”

“African leaders now have a stronger sense of urgency to combat the lack of quality health care that Africans endure. The inequality of healthcare available to Africans compared to people in other parts of the globe is vast and unacceptably pervasive. With the cooperation of both the public and private sectors, there is a huge potential to boost health outcomes with significant financial gains,” said Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Co-Chair GBCHealth.

The Executive Secretary of the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Vera Songwe regretted that that Africa with over 50 countries is struggling to combat her healthcare challenges but that organizations such as being launch offer a veritable perspective from the private sector to the solutions to Africa’s health care problems.

She said about $17.3 worth of drugs are imported into African Continent and that if Africa can manufacture those drugs, then that would be 17.3 billion worth of jobs created.

However, to attract the participation of African private sector, there is the need to create enabling environment. “To the private sector, our leaders are expecting you to invest in healthcare because you will get higher returns than you can get anywhere else.”

According to her, a healthier Africa would be a happy Africa and a happy Africa will be a productive Africa.

One after another, the three African heads of governments, namely President of Republic of Djibouti, Omar Gilles; the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed; and Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi took turn to explain what their administrations have been doing to improve health care delivery services in their respective countries.

They also gave lack of adequate funding as part of the problems militating aainst achieving their administrations’ plan to provide sound health care services just as other African countries.

They all endorsed the establishment of Africa Business Coalition for Health and concluded that it would provide opportunities to accelerate economic development and growth of the continent through a healthcare reform agenda that focuses on the wellbeing of employees for a more active and productive workforce.

Distributed by APO Group

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