Poor working conditions cripple govt hospitals

HARARE - Poor working conditions in government institutions are affecting Zimbabwe’s health system and making service delivery impossible, nurses told Parliament.

On Monday, the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) told Parliament’s Public Service portfolio committee that government health institutions faced human resources constraints, lack of proper equipment while workers were poorly remunerated.

“Nurses are being overworked, especially in rural areas where there is a shortage of manpower. After they knock off, at four they are always on standby, to attend to patients and emergencies at night. They are not given any money for working overtime,” Zina general secretary Enock Dongo told parliamentarians.

This comes as Zimbabwe is experiencing a shortage of nurses, with about 8 500 nurses.

However, the government has halted nurses’ recruitment, though there are over 3 000 trained ones failing to find employment.

In Zimbabwe, there are about 15 000 nurses currently working at a ratio of one nurse to 825 people, which is way below international standard.

The association added that in most institutions, there is inadequate bed linen and blankets coupled with lack of protective clothing, which exposed nurses to communicable diseases.

“...the scenario we have in most health institutions now is two nurses in the ward against 40 patients, instead of the ideal one nurse to five patients ratio,” said Dongo, adding that the situation made quality nursing care impossible.

Dongo blamed the lack of nurses in decision-making positions in the Health ministry for the professionals’ failure to get representation.

“Nurses get paid way below the poverty datum line as they get a basic salary of $284 a month. At the same time these nurses do not have accommodation at hospitals.”

“Furthermore... services are passed on to nurses when funding for those services has run down.

“For example, anti-retroviral treatment was passed to nurses when funding had run out, even male circumcision... this has contributed to low morale among nurses,” Dongo said.

“The nursing establishment has not been revived in more than 30 years, thereby putting a strain on the nurses.

“An establishment was done in 1983, but a lot of things have changed; the population and disease patterns.

“We have opened a lot of departments and have taken nurses from other wards to operate the opened clinics.”

Zina president Simangaliso Mafa added that the new resettlement areas did not have clinics therefore putting a strain on existing clinics.

“... an example is a clinic in Mashonaland West, which has a catchment of 18 0885 people served by three nurse,” Mafa said.

Comments (2)

May the responsible minister also consider the plight of students on attachment at various healthy institutions. Yes it is not their right to get a remuneration but as other human beings, they also have basic needs that require money. All other government depts pay a token that goes a long way in covering bus fares, tissues, sanitary pads, pants, stationery and clothes. Surely our hospitals are not that hospitable to tertiary students on attachment.

Madhuve - 20 July 2016

It's not surprising, our national political authorities are treated outside Zimbabwe,at the most expensive medical private facilities,which the average affluent citizen of those countries can't afford.This is the true social and political scenario of our country.

Gen. Spinola - 20 July 2016

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