BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
HARARE City Council’s health services director Prosper Chonzi yesterday said there was a serious shortage of midwives at council-run clinics, saying this had severely affected maternal healthcare services.
Chonzi said this while giving oral evidence to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government following a petition from the Combined Harare Residents Association on access to maternal health.
“Our challenge is shortage of staff. We don’t have nurses that trained or are qualified to do this job,” Chonzi said.
“We cannot get a registered general nurse to be booking patients, help pregnant women deliver and follow up on them. The few midwives who are there are being taken within the region and private hospitals.”
Estimates say at least 4 000 nurses and other health workers have quit their jobs and left for the United Kingdom (UK).
The UK has been conducting a recruitment drive to supplement its medical professionals who were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit.
Nurses in the public sector are now planning to go on strike in protest over poor salaries and working conditions.
“We had to scale down services that we were offering at family health service centres and satellite clinics and concentrate all efforts at poly clinics, where women can still book, be followed up, deliver and get maternal assistance,” Chonzi said.
In a health-related matter, Bulawayo East legislator Ilos Nyoni (MDC) urged the Health and Child Care ministry to urgently address the crisis at United Bulawayo Hospital which has suspended surgical operations due to lack of anaesthetics.
“My prayer is for the Health and Child Care minister (Constantino Chiwenga) to urgently ensure that UBH is urgently capacitated with necessary resources and procurement of anaesthetics drugs,” Nyoni said.
In an unrelated matter, Norton legislator Temba Mliswa (Independent) also called on Parliament to investigate Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Zanu PF) over allegations of theft of Cotton Company of Zimbabwe agricultural inputs.
Mliswa said this while raising a point of national interest in the National Asssembly yesterday.