Murewa hospital nurses down tools

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Lloyd Ndemo

NURSES and other health workers at Murewa hospital in Mashonaland East Province of Zimbabwe held a demonstration at the district health centre on Thursday morning over deteriorating working conditions.

The health care workers accused the hospital’s management of ill-treatment while the senior officers are enjoying lucrative benefits and ignoring the implementation of a legally binding instruction from the parent ministry that allowed all health workers to work for fewer days per week that would translate to 154 hours a month.

When this publication visited the hospital, the nurses had just finished demonstrating but they had not yet dispersed.

“We are working like slaves at this hospital. To make matters worse, we do not have enough protective clothing to wear while carrying the patients,” said one of the nurses who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.

“All other hospitals countrywide are implementing the Collective Bilateral Agreement (CBA) that allows nurses to have flexible working hours, but here we are denied the same rights by our management,” said another nurse at the hospital’s meeting point.

Contacted for comment Murewa District Medical Officer Dr Gwisai said he was not yet in office but later on refuted allegations that nurses were protesting.

“They were not protesting; in fact they were having a meeting where they were deliberating on their duties which also included those working hours. However I am not sure of their agreement.”

Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo recently said that he had instructed Health and Child Care Permanent Secretary, Dr Agnes Mahomva to remind the Mashonaland East Provincial Medical Director that the CBA agreement is still valid.

“That (suspension of flexible hours) was not supposed to have been made in the first place. It is against the CBA agreement and I have since instructed the permanent secretary to write to the PMD a letter reminding him of our commitment to the agreement.”

This development could collapse the already distressed Zimbabwe health care system in Mashonaland East that has recorded one Covid-19 patient and over 200 malaria patients in the past month.