Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
patients seeking treatment at Harare City Council clinics were yesterday left stranded, while others had to wait for long periods to be attended to after nurses failed to turn up for work citing incapacitation. By end of day yesterday, most nurses had heeded a call by their workers’ union to stop reporting for work.
Patients on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and those with chronic diseases such as diabetes had to wait for long periods before getting medication as available administrative staff tried to cope with the pressure.
City Health director Dr Prosper Chonzi said the municipality might have to collapse other units, discharge patients who are stable and consolidate services should the situation remain unchanged.
“We have to come up with strategies to minimise damage and mitigate challenges,” he said.
“We might need to get all the sisters-in charge who are currently reporting for duty to go to our 12 Polyclinics so that patients get services there,”
Dr Chonzi said this could result in family health and satellite clinics being closed until normal services resumed.
“Our system is driven by nurses and in their absence we have difficulties in offering normal service,” he said.
The nurses, through their representative body, the Zimbabwe Urban and Rural Council Nurses Workers Union (ZURCNWU) said they had taken the position in light of the current economic challenges.
The nurses demanded that their salaries of about $1 000 be reviewed taking into account the prevailing interbank rate.
“We also want to bring it to your attention that your failure to address our members’ issues coupled with this current increase in the price of fuel and basic commodities has left them severely incapacitated that they are now unable to report for duty,” read a statement signed by the ZURCNWU executive committee.
The situation at government hospitals remained desperate, with doctors vowing not to report for work as they await the final outcome of their disciplinary hearings.
The Health Services Board and the Ministry of Health and Child Care could not be reached to comment on the latest development, with some officials saying they wanted to first update Cabinet on the state of healthcare.