25 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Unfreeze Nurses' Posts, Government Urged

GOVERNMENT has been urged to reconsider its policy of freezing the employment of nurses.

Parliamentarians, civil society members and health workers who last week met in Harare at the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) meeting said all the critical vacancies in the health sector needed to be filled to prevent unwarranted loss of lives.

They said a proposal by government to send nurses to other countries for employment was not sustainable.

"The proposal to 'export' nurses with two years' experience together with newly-trained nurses would bleed Zimbabwe's services of qualified people," noted the meeting. "We need to employ health workers in Zimbabwe to address the needs of Zimbabwe's public and health system."

CWGH is a community organisation that advocates for access to efficient health services at grassroots level.

CWGH executive director, Itayi Rusike recently told The Standard that the decision by the government to export nurses was ill-advised.

The country's health institutions are under-staffed, with some clinics in rural areas staffed by unqualified personnel, putting lives of patients at risk.

It is estimated that Zimbabwe has more than 2 500 trained nurses who cannot be employed by the health sector.

The government in 2007 introduced the concept of bonding of nurses for a period equal to the student nurse's training period.

The meeting added that the country needed adequate, well-trained and equitably distributed health workers who worked in decent working conditions.

It was also highlighted that there was need "to motivate public health workers through training, incentives, living wages, and safe work environments."

Increasing public resources to health and government budgets to primary health care could also help improve the situation in the health sector, the meeting said.

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