GOVERNMENT has begun deploying unemployed nurses to various work stations across the country following the unfreezing of 2 000 posts, the Health Services Board (HSB) has said.
Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa
The deployments were being done in three phases. The first group started this month, the second will begin in July and the last batch would be deployed in September, the HSB said in a statement on Thursday.
“The HSB, as the employer of public health workers, has begun deploying registered general nurses within the health sector. The deployment will be in three phases, with the first group of nurses assuming duty in April 2017, the second group assuming duty from July 1, 2017 and the final group from September 1, 2017,” the statement read in part.
Government froze recruitment of nurses in 2011 to contain a ballooning wage bill, a situation that led to critical shortages of staff in hospitals mainly in rural areas, with the nurse to patient ratio currently at 1,2 per 1 000 patients.
The Health ministry has said about 8 000 new nurses are required to meet growing demand for health services. Currently, over 3 500 nurses are unemployed due to a freeze in recruitment.
“The board, in line with its mandate to appoint persons to offices, posts and grades in the health service, deploys nurses according to years they completed training, with those who graduated earlier being deployed first. In deployment, efforts are being made to deploy nurses according to their preferred provinces,” the HSB added.
The HSB has been lobbying the government on the possibility of unfreezing the posts to adequately staff hospitals.
The shortage of health workers has compromised the country’s health delivery system, which is also plagued by a number of problems among them a shortage of drugs and critical equipment.
Health minister David Parirenyatwa in February, told the Senate that about $1,3 billion was required annually to reboot the health delivery sector to operate at optimum levels in discharging its duties.
“We require $1,3 billion per year, which helps us with infrastructure, equipment, staffing and drugs. That is what the health system of Zimbabwe requires. That will cover all the issues including those living with albinism and such other issues. Please register it in your minds that we require $1,3 billion. We are not being unrealistic, but this is what the country needs, whether the money is there or not,” he told Senators.