Zimbabwe is unable to provide optimal health care at government hospitals owing to a shortfall of 8,000 nurses, according to Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa.
Parirenyatwa is demanding support from Cabinet colleagues for the lifting of a recruitment freeze which has seen 3,000 nursing graduates failing to find jobs – despite the jobs gap.
Parirenyatwa made the remarks during the hand-over of an ambulance donated to Chivhu Hospital by the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce recently.
“At one time, when we visited Masvingo General Hospital, we were told that the hospital had 188 nurses but they needed 40 more nurses. The 188 nurses at the hospital were the available posts and all of them were full but they felt they needed 40 more nurses.
“From there, we then carried out a research around the country to ascertain the human resources situation in other hospitals,” said Parirenyatwa.
We realised that our country needed between 7,000 to 8,000 more nurses to be employed yet currently we have 3,000 qualified nurses that are unemployed.” A poorly performing economy has seen Treasury placing a freeze on recruitment by government departments.
But Parirenyatwa says the national health service is slowly grinding to a halt, with nurses and doctors working long hours to make up for the staff shortage.
“I’m saying this for people to know such that if Minister Bimha and I are in the Cabinet, whenever I raise the issue that we need the health establishment to be raised, he may give me his full support,” said Parirenyatwa.
Chivhu Hospital is in Chikomba West, where Bimha is the Member of Parliament. The minister went on: “The establishment that we’re currently operating with was promulgated in 1983 but the population has increased. The workload has increased, and the patterns of diseases have diversified.
“So we need more staff but I’m being told that once an institution has been declared full, it’s full. I’m saying ‘no’, let’s look at the establishment and we absorb all those nurses who are unemployed and give more services to our people.”
He said besides looking at human resources in the health institutions, it was also important to ensure the availability of drugs, satisfactory infrastructure, adequate equipment and reliable transport to hospitals. Parirenyatwa said good communication channels also enable efficient health service delivery in the country. The Chronicle