Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya says government has recruited over 16,000 doctors and other health personnel in the last two years in order to address the shortage man power in rural areas.
Dr. Chilufya said government was striving to ensure that all rural health facilities are manned by qualified health personnel.
The minister disclosed that government recruited 10,000 health personnel in 2016 while between 2017 and 2018, about 6,000 health workers were recruited and sent in various health facilities especially in rural areas.
He said his ministry has ensured that health personnel who have been recruited and posted to rural areas do not abandon their stations but serve where they have assigned.
He said cases of health workers shunning to serve in rural areas was a huge challenge for government but noted that this has now been addressed because officers are informed during recruitment that they would be sent to such areas.
Dr. Chilufya said this is to ensure that only those who want to go to rural areas are engaged.
The minister said this when First Lady Esther Lungu asked what his ministry was doing to address the challenge of nurses and doctors shunning rural health facilities where they are posted.
And Mrs. Lungu noted that people in rural area also need qualified health workers to serve them hence the need for the Ministry of Health to ensure that all countryside facilities are managed by qualified staff.
She observed that doctors and nurses especially are not willing to serve in rural areas where their services are required.
She has since asked the Minister to find a way of keeping staff in rural health facilities.
Mrs. Lungu was speaking during a briefing before she visited and gave Christmas gifts to newborn babies at Levy Mwanawasa and University Teaching Hospitals in Lusaka today.
And Levy Mwanawasa University Teaching Hospital Medical Superintendent Laston Chikoya said the shortage of medical staff will be a thing of the past once the new teaching hospital is opened at Levy.
Dr. Chikoya said the new Levy Teaching Hospital will be able to produce about 3,000 medical workers in various fields annually who will be deployed in health facilities dotted across Zambia.
He said the hospital will also increase the bed capacity for patients from the current 240 beds to over 1,030 beds.
He said the hospital had a capacity of 150 beds when it was just opened but increased to 240 beds due to demand.