Beaven Dhliwayo Features Writer
The move by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to deal with corrupt elements when it comes to recruitment of student nurses in hospitals across the country was long overdue.
For decades, top hospital officials have been demanding bribes from prospective nurses for them to secure training places which is a serious case of corruption.
ZACC spokesperson John Makamure recently said staff at one of the country’s major hospitals are in the habit of allocating nurse training vacancies to their relatives, but go on to invite members of the public for interviews for the already taken-up posts.
Although he did not name the hospital, Makamure said the corrupt behaviour was unearthed by a systems audit and compliance review of Government ministries, departments and State entities the anti-graft body carried out.
The recruitment of nurses is an ethical issue that needs to be urgently looked into to address compliance challenges and save lives.
To date, the system of trainee nurses recruitment is tainted as some corrupt officials in health institutions keep demanding bribes and favouring their relatives for placement further weighing down a system already haunted by massive challenges.
Zimbabwe’s health sector lacks essential drugs, qualified and sober-minded workers and corruption in the recruitment processes further worsens the challenges the sector is facing.
In the past many parents and guardians used to fork large amounts of money in order for their loved ones to be accepted as trainee nurses in hospitals.
Prospective students were reportedly paying between $400 and $600 to be admitted to a nursing school.
The underhand dealings were so severe that at some hospitals places were being auctioned to thr highest bidder with those from affluent families offering as much as $1 000 to $1 200, subsequently buying out those that could not afford such amounts.
Such practices rob the health institutions of real talent because almost all students will be enrolled through the corrupt procedure with very few being thrown in from normal applications and interviews as cover-up.
This is one of the reasons why the healthcare system is packed with incompetent nurses who do not take proper care of patients.
Subsequently, because of negligence and lack of the zeal expected from a nurse many patients’ lives are being lost on a daily basis in hospitals.
One worrying incident is that of nurses at Parirenyatwa Hospital’s Mbuya Nehanda Maternity Ward who recently ignored calls for help by a woman who was giving birth leading to her death and that of her baby.
According to reports, the woman is reported to have been moaning from as early as 12 midnight up to 3am when she is said to have gone quiet up until she was discovered dead with the baby between her legs.
A woman in the same ward told reporters that nurses kept on saying that she was looking for attention by faking pain. May her soul rest in eternal peace.
Such is the kind of nurses that are produced from corrupt enrolments and this should stop forthwith.
They do not care and just come to work to get a salary yet risking people’s lives.
Authorities should put the top officials who corruptly recruit trainee nurses in jail for longer periods to send a warning to would- be offenders that nursing ismfor those with a passion for the job and not mercenaries.
Government should quickly roll out the mooted e-recruitment system for nursing institutions.
This means aspiring nurses will now submit their applications using the digital recruitment platform which will enhance accountability and eliminate corruption in the selection of candidates.
Last year more than a hundred prospective student nurses who had been issued with acceptance letters at one of the biggest referral hospitals in the country had their acceptance letters withdrawn after allegations that the recruitment was not done procedurally.
Of particular note was that there was no system in place to check, vet and record every application as it was being received, leaving a massive loophole allowing for the alleged clandestine receipt of applications into the selection process.
Additionally, the system was easily manipulated as it was controlled by some individuals who were not answerable to anyone other than themselves.
Zimbabwe should join other nations in online platforms as information and communication technologies are now widely used to enhance efficiency in various fields.
Globally, it is now widely believed that information communication technologies have the potential to end corruption which is weighing down economies.
Online platforms will create a synergy between Government, health institutions and the applicants thus improving transparency and accountability in the recruitment of trainee nurses.
Over the years, corrupt officials offered places to their relatives and those who paid a bribe hence the online system will now track and detect corruption in the recruitment processes.