THE health sector needs more than 2 000 new posts to enable public institutions to function effectively, a senior official has said. Speaking at a Primary Care Nurses graduation ceremony in Harare last week, director of nursing services in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Mrs Cynthia Chasokela, said existing vacant posts should also be unfrozen.
"Creation of additional posts will ensure appropriate numbers for the present day workloads seen at various facilities, especially in the opportunistic infections, maternity and medical wards," she said.
There are 8 056 nursing posts in the country, with 7 000 of them filled.
Mrs Chasokela said the employment of more nurses would help take care of those who qualified in recent years.
At least 2 000 nurses trained in the past two years are still jobless as they can not be given jobs in the public sector owing to the job freeze.
At the graduation ceremony, the 164 PCNs from Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West provinces who were upgraded to be midwives under the Government's up-skilling training programme, received their certificates.
The graduates are part of 550 PCNs who successfully underwent the Government's up-skilling programme meant to fill in gaps in midwifery.
The training was funded by the European Union.
Before the PCNs were up-skilled, there were about 150 midwives in public health institutions countrywide.
Mrs Chasokela said the midwifery development policy required at least 60 percent of nurses at a hospital to hold a midwifery qualification.
She said at a rural health centre, at least one of the nurses should be a midwife.
"We are recruiting the RGNs without any other qualification so as to strengthen the nursing and midwifery workforce," said Mrs Chasokela.
She said by end of the year, an additional 255 PCNs would undergo the same programme.
This would bring the total number of PCNs with midwifery skills in the country to 800.
Mrs Chasokela said Government has established 20 midwifery schools from six in 2010. The shortage of midwives was felt a few years ago after a number of trained nurses left the country for greener pastures.