Nurses stay away 

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Tendai Kamhungira

©️  A SMALL number of nurses reported for duty yesterday at Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals, following a nationwide strike announced by the health workers which left thousands of patients stranded.

A survey carried out by the Daily News at two of the country’s major referral hospitals yesterday revealed that the patients were mainly being attended to by doctors.
A senior official at Parirenyatwa hospital, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that only a few nurses had reported for duty.
“Most of our patients are being attended to by the doctors, as only a small number of nurses have reported for duty today. The numbers of patients, who are coming for the first time, are also reduced as you can see,” the official said.
When the Daily News arrived at Parirenyatwa hospital, a small queue was starting to build up, as health officials screened them for temperature, while sanitising them in line with the health guidelines on curbing the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).
At Harare Central Hospital, a small number of patients were also seen registering to be attended to by the few health officials who were present.
The nurses, together with other health workers, downed tools last week demanding better wages.
Senior doctors on Monday raised alarm over the dire situation in hospitals, which they said was characterised by shortages of equipment and health personnel.
“You saw the statement from the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina). Most of the nurses are no longer able to report for duty and that’s on top of our chronic problems, where we have lack of equipment, among other things.
Patients are already finding it difficult, the numbers of those in maternity wards have dropped. The combination of these factors is making the situation dire,” Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) president Shingai Nyaguse said.
The strike by health workers came despite government having awarded all civil servants a 50 percent salary increment and US$75 Covid-19 allowance last week.
“We have noted with great concern the circular on various media platforms that the government has offered US$75, as Covid-19 allowance across the board and this is applaudable as this is a global trend during this pandemic.
“However, we as healthcare workers await a communiqué based on CBA on our allowances pegged in United States dollars. Our members have rejected the current offer of US$75 with the contempt it deserves.
“The healthcare workers demand that: salaries revert back to the 1st of October 2018 digits that were quoted in US dollars which is a stable currency that can store value of that salary. In that way, pensions, savings, medical aids, funeral policies will not continue to be eroded.
“This letter serves to inform you that the healthcare workers as you might have witnessed have already taken matters into their own hands and have withdrawn their services,” the health workers said.
In a statement on micro-blogging site Twitter, the senior doctors yesterday raised concern over corrupt officials.
“Many labelled us ‘uncaring’, ‘political’, and many other descriptors when we made it clear that there was nothing to use in hospitals.
“We could not stand the trauma of avoidable deaths anymore. Today it is for all to see that the money had been looted … Many people died prematurely from lack of treatment when thievery was being shielded with lies. There is more to these scandals with obsolete equipment having been procured in 2019. We must break institutionalised corruption,” the doctors said.
On Monday, the Health Apex Council said they were not going back on their salary demands.
“Today (Monday) marks the fifth day of our industrial action. The struggle continues and more and more healthcare workers are joining the struggle. Let us remain resolute and united despite numerous threats from departmental heads and other elements which are meant to destabilise the struggle. Up to date there is no formal talk about negotiations between employees and the employer,” the body said.


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