By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Local nurses yesterday said they had no reason to celebrate International Nurses Day which is commemorated annually on May 12 due to their measly salaries.
Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating the day under the theme: Nurses: A Voice to Lead — A vision for future healthcare.
The commemorations, which started in 1965, mark the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, the founder of modern nursing who gained fame during the Crimean war serving as a manager and trainer of nurses.
However, the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) said the day was a painful reminder of their poor working conditions, adding that they were appealing to government to better their salaries and restore their dignity.
“We are appealing to the government to remunerate the nurses by giving them a living wage and we also want the government to recognise the nurses by giving them influential positions in the Health and Child Care ministry,” said Zina president Enock Dongo.
A 2020 salary strike by nurses and senior doctors crippled the public health delivery system in the midst of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.
“Considering the remuneration and recognition that we expect as nurses, we don’t have much to celebrate on the International Nurses Day. Since last year, nurses were busy working, doing everything they can to protect the people of Zimbabwe, but they were not recognised in terms of their salaries, in terms of their working environment,” Dongo added.
“Right now the government is boasting about managing COVID-19 . . . but all this cannot be achieved without the nurses . . . we don’t hear any mention of nurses and this is the unfortunate part which we want the government to realise and recognise.”
Health Services Board (HSB) chairperson Paulinus Sikosana, in a statement, acknowledged the trying times faced by nurses in the face of ever-increasing prices of goods and services.
“We acknowledge the commitment and loyalty shown by all health workers in these challenging times and reiterate our commitment to improving health workers’ conditions of service and to ensure a safe work environment in the face of economic challenges,” Sikosana said.