17 May 2017

Tanzania: Muhimbili Hit By Nurse Shortage

Photo: The Citizen
Nurses at Muhimbili National Hospital.

Dar es Salaam — Nurses at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) maternity ward work under pressure to fill the gap left by colleagues, who were on Tuesday last week sacked after they were accused of using bogus academic certificates, The Citizen can report.

According to statistics availed by the MNH, the national hospital has 2,721 workers, including 339 doctors and 964 nurses, while the rest are officials of other professions. The maternity wards - Block A and Block B have 159 nurses and 49 nurses respectively.

Situation at maternity wards

Analysis done by The Citizen indicates that each maternity block experienced an acute shortage of attendants even before verification of academic certificates was carried out. Hence, the sacking of medics increased the burden on remaining workers, who are now obliged to work even on their days off, according to one of the nurses, who The Citizen talked to on Wednesday.

"At least seven attendants have been sacked from Block B. It is no longer a secret because their names have already been published and attached to the notice board, where everyone can see them," the nurse told The Citizen on condition that her name shouldn't be revealed for her job security.

"The incident has surely brought significant change in the administration, especially, when it comes to arranging shifts during the day and at night. For instance, I was supposed to be home resting, but my boss told me to come to the office this morning," she said.

She asked the hospital management to put in place strategies to resolve the issue, saying they were overwhelmed as a result of demand of maternal and child healthcare before and after delivery.

What should be done

She warned if stern measures were not taken urgently, the shortage of workers would paralyse operations and endanger the lives of mothers and children admitted to the national hospital.

"This issue has to be resolved as soon as possible. Otherwise, it may result in a disaster, including congestion of patients and deaths as a result of inadequate workforce to provide high quality healthcare," she noted.

Another nurse at same block told The Citizen that none of her close colleagues was affected by the sacking of workers, saying yet there was a need for the hospital management to employ more workers because demand for medical services was increasing.

She told The Citizen that at least 30 officials were required to serve each maternity block, saying the department was always stunned with the increasing number of outpatients and inpatients from across the country, hence there was a need for the management to take urgent measures to address the issue.

"None has been affected in this ward. We are 12, but still we are not able to cope with the demand. I advise the government to employ other workers as soon as possible to fill the gap," she told The Citizen.

"At least 30 people would be enough to serve a single block. The gap is so big and at the moment we feel like we are overwhelmed with too much work," she added.

JPM's decision supported

Supporting President John Magufuli's decision, a MNH nurse, who preferred anonymity told The Citizen that the directive came on the right time of which she believed that the sacking of civil servants, who were found to have fake academic certificates was a right way to send the message to members of public over the disadvantage of forgery.

She called for members of public to avoid faking their documents and instead they must use a legal procedure to seek employments.

"All of them have obeyed the order. They have not come to work today. This is a lesson to all of us because it reminds us the importance of moving in the right direction without opting for shortcuts," she noted.

Letter to Permanent Secretary

MNH director of the department of communications and public relations Aminiel Alighaisha told The Citizen that the hospital management this week was expecting to write an official letter to the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of State (Public Service Management and Good Governance) to ask for a replacement permit to employ 134 officials in attempt to fill the gap.

He said the sacking of officials would not paralyse the operations at the national hospital. However, he admitted that the hospital for years had been experiencing an acute shortage of health personnel in specific directorates, including the directorate of surgery.

"We will advertise new employment opportunities as soon as possible. We are preparing to write a letter to the PS so that we can be allowed to employ new staff members. Applicants will be required to apply for posts as soon as we get the green light," he said.

Reallocation of workers

To curb the shortage of workers in the affected directorates, Mr Alighaisha told The Citizen that the hospital management had reallocated the workers to fill in the gaps at offices that faced a critical shortage of workers.

"Maternity blocks and the emergency department are in need of special treatment. To ensure that the operations in these areas are not paralysed, we have already allocated the workers attend to patients," he said.

MNH executive director's statement

A statement issued on Tuesday last week by the MHN executive director, Prof Lawrence Museru, directed the 134 officials of different directorates to leave the hospital after they were accused of forging certificates. Those, who fail to do so have been warned that they will be subjected to legal action.

The statement directed complainants, who claimed to have genuine academic certificates to appeal to the PS in the ministry of State (Public Service Management and Good Governance).

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