Nurses threaten to join doctors strike

HARARE - Nurses at Zimbabwe's public hospitals have threatened to join striking doctors to put pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa's cash-strapped government to increase their allowances and improve their working conditions.

This comes after doctors working in Zimbabwean public hospitals went on strike at the start of the month to protest low salaries and shortages of essential supplies.

On Thursday, the Health and Child Care ministry convened a meeting with all health practitioners at the Health Services Board (HSB), with the conclave ending in a deadlock after the ministry allegedly back-tracked on an earlier agreement to resolve the concerns of both doctors and nurses.

Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) secretary-general Enock Dongo said  health practitioners walked out of the meeting empty-handed.

“We did not ask for this meeting but it was them who called us and promised us that our grievances will have been met, that post-basic allowance has been reinstated, night duty allowance is going to be increased and on call allowance will be increased but today they now turn the tables on us,” Dongo fumed.

“The ministry of Health had promised us that we are only coming to this bipartite forum to put pen to paper, now we arrive here and we hear a different story altogether.  And to make matters worse, we had told our members the good news for our first meeting on Wednesday and now they are shifting goal posts.”

Zina’s Simangaliso Mafa said: “We have been disappointed to the last, reneging from their promises within 24 hours, we have been provoked. They are forcing us to take action that we did not want. This high level of arrogance cannot be tolerated by workers. We can’t, we can’t, if anything happens in the health delivery system, they are responsible.”

Health Workers Apex team leader Panganai Chivese said the repercussions of the nurses’ pull out will have to be shouldered by the Health ministry and the Health Services Board.

“We have been provoked by our authority. I don’t know why they want the total collapse of the health sector. We had not asked them for anything, they called us to come. So we have adjourned the meeting until tomorrow. It appears government is reneging on its promises because the minister had promised us and we expect officials to implement so we adjourn,” Chivese told the Daily News.

Meanwhile, the doctors’ strike has spread to all public hospitals in the country.

Mxolisi Ngwenya, spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), which represents more than 1 000 members, said: “The main issue we have raised currently is that it does not make sense for us to continue working in hospitals that do not have any drugs or sufficient equipment.”

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