By Pauline Hurungudo
The crisis at the country’s public hospitals is worsening as nurses have further cut the days they will be reporting for duty at State hospitals from three to two days a week citing the biting economic conditions.
This comes after the nurses had earlier resorted to reporting for duty for three days a week due to fuel shortages, as well as their outstanding working conditions demands.
In the meantime, the doctors and clinical radiologists have continued with their industrial action saying they will only return to work after government has addressed challenges being faced by the medical practitioners.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association secretary-general Enock Dongo told the Daily News yesterday that they have been talking to the relevant authorities and have agreed to cut their working days due to the prevailing national problems.
“We have agreed, as a temporary measure, that nurses should come to work for two days per week, as we are still negotiating with the government to address our concerns.
“We are following procedures and we have had two meetings now and we are only left with one which will determine the way forward,” Dongo said.
He said the problems faced by the nurses are national, cutting across many professions.
“We are saying the money is no longer enough with the peak of the cost of living and bus fare.
“The five days off will work as a temporary solution as our nurses are struggling to come to work due to bus fare hikes. It’s no longer a ministerial problem but a national challenge.
“We are also engaging with other civil servants like the teachers because in January schools are going to open and we have a crisis,” Dongo added.
Nurses are demanding salaries in United States dollars, although the government has told them it has no capacity to pay them in greenbacks.
“We had asked the government to pay us in US dollars which is a viable solution and they said they did not have US dollars,” he said.
Meanwhile, doctors’ strike has continued to cripple operations at most public hospitals.
As a result, hospitals are shutting their doors to outpatients and are attending to emergency cases only.
The striking doctors are protesting the severe shortages of pharmaceutical drugs at public hospitals — as well as the selling of available drugs in foreign currency by retail pharmacies, the poor state of the country’s hospital infrastructure and their “falling” salaries which they now want the government to pay in foreign currency.
Zimbabwe’s health delivery system has for a while now been battling myriad problems, as a result of the country’s worsening economic climate.
In the past, major referral hospitals have had to suspend many services as a result of shortages of drugs, including painkillers. Daily News