25 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Govt Reduces Student Nurse Enrolment

GOVERNMENT has reduced the number of student nurses enrolled per training intake. According to Health and Child Welfare Deputy Minister Douglas Mombeshora the nurses student intake has been reduced to not more than 30 students per semester. Nurse training institutions were enrolling on average 100 students.

Deputy Minister Mombeshora said the enrolment had been reduced after staff establishments in public institutions had been reached.

The institutions had also been affected by shortages of tutors.

"We started reducing enrolments when we realised that our establishment was full and we could no longer absorb all those we were training.

Furthermore, challenges in getting skilled tutors contributed to the reduction because an institution cannot recruit too many students when they do not have enough tutors.

"Each tutor has a minimum number of students one has to monitor especially when they are doing practicals," he said.

Studying for a nursing diploma takes three years. While institutions are enrolling about 30 students, smaller ones have reduced enrolments to between 9 and 15 students per intake.

He said Harare, Parirenyatwa and Chitungwiza Hospitals would enrol at least 30 students per intake.

Most training institutions have three intakes per year.

Ministry of Health and Child Welfare officials said the institutions used to enrol at least 30 students until 2008 when the health sector was hard hit by massive brain drain. There are more than 2 000 trained nurses who could not be absorbed after Treasury froze posts in the health sector.

Government trained 1 044 nurses in 2011 while 594 were absorbed into the system.

Treasury has, however, lifted the freeze on 1 000 posts.

Chitungwiza Central Hospital chief executive Dr Obadiah Moyo said nurse training enrolment for their January intake will not have more than 30 students.

He said the hospital had been enrolling between 90 and 100 students per intake.

Dr Moyo, however, urged Government to cover salaries with funds, which was supposed to be committed towards training of the other 75 prospective nurses.

"We have always said we have a brain drain in Zimbabwe, so we need to train and retain. Now we have managed to train but we are failing to retain so there is something wrong somewhere," he said.

In 2012, Government trained 1 022 nurses from all its training institutions in Zimbabwe while the majority ended up pursuing unrelated careers after failing to secure employment within Government service.

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