Farayi Machamire 13 March 2017
HARARE – Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa’s witticism on
Friday sparked controversy when he appealed to struggling farmers in
hunger-torn Muzarabani District to feed the underpaid nurses as a form of
improving good relations.
The statement made in jest flew in the face of an appeal by Muzarabani MP
Christopher Chitindi, who had asked the minister to lobby his colleagues
in Cabinet to support his constituency with resources.
“You may be aware that Muzarabani District is the poorest district in the
country,” Chitindi said as he opened the floor for Parirenyatwa during the
National Teenage Fertility Study launch at St Albert’s Mission Hospital.
“So when you are in Cabinet, please lobby for us so that we get more
resources. We are thankful government has been assisting with food aid,
but we need more.”
Parirenyatwa later took to the stage but without any hint of irony
lavished nurses with praise for standing by government despite long
working hours that were not being equaled by the remuneration.
“We are very happy with the government hospitals that are out there (in
the outskirts) that are often not recognised,” Parirenyatwa said.
“It’s always thought nurses are always sitting at work and doing nothing
but they work hard and I want to thank them for that.
“I want to ask all nurses that please nurses handle your patients with
care, please keep doing the best you can for your patients, I know you
are overstretched and I know you are overworked but keep doing the best
“Imimiwo ana mai nana baba kana muine mbambaira nezvimwe zvakadaro, mopawo
ma nurse(Parents if you have sweet potatoes and other things, give to
nurses),” added Parirenyatwa.
Last week, the nurses and doctors brought to an end a crippling strike
which had destabilised the public hospitals as they protested poor pay and
conditions of service.
“We are lucky that we have been allowed to recruit 2 000 more nurses,”
“I think that is a good thing. Although we have 4 000 unemployed nurses,
but we can start off with 2 000. It will go a long way towards alleviating
Public hospitals are experiencing myriad problems – including having to
deal with acute drug shortages and obsolete equipment – while at times
experiencing power and water cuts.
Despite the humongous problems bedevilling the public health sector,
President Robert Mugabe’s misfiring government has once again allocated a
measly budget to hospitals and clinics this year.
Government has reduced the vote for health from $331 million to a
disappointing $282 million – a figure that falls way short of meeting the
big demands of the public health sector.